Organizers of the Maccabiah Games said Friday that this summer's Jewish Olympics-style event will go on as scheduled even though nearly half the athletes from abroad will stay away out of fear of violence.
"There will be a Maccabiah on July 16," said Iris Dror, a spokeswoman for the games.
Arieh Shumer, director-general of Israel's ministry of science, culture and sports, said the final number of participants remains in question. "We have another month. . . . [It] is a long time. They will come," he said on Israel Radio.
The 12-day event, held every four years, is to begin July 16 in Jerusalem.
Originally, about 5,000 athletes had been registered for the 2001 games--4,000 from abroad and 1,000 from Israel. But as Israeli-Palestinian fighting stretches into its ninth month--diminished but not ended by cease-fires--the number of athletes coming from abroad has dwindled to about 2,500, organizers said.
The U.S. delegation--traditionally the largest--is expected to number 200 to 250 athletes, far fewer than the usual 600.
"It will be a very small delegation," Dror said. "But it's important. The coming of the American delegation is very important for any Maccabiah, especially this Maccabiah. We need the American solidarity."
Israeli officials said a cancellation of the games because of low turnout would have signaled an abandonment of Israel during a time of crisis.
The 16th Maccabiah Games is among the events affected, as diaspora Jews have canceled or postponed trips amid the Israeli-Palestinian violence.