Jerusalem, Israel - Sept. 15, 2021 - Tuesday afternoon on September 14, 2021 / 8 Tishrei 5782, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog hosted an event to salute the Israeli delegation at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. They were joined by Culture and Sports Minister Hili Tropper, Israeli National Paralympic Committee President Dr. Yehoshua Dekel, Israel Sports Association for the Disabled Chairman Eli Birnbaum, National Insurance Institute Director-General Meir Spiegler, and the athletes of the Paralympic delegation. Two sign language interpreters were present as was Israel's first deaf MK Shirly Pinto.
The Israeli Paralympic delegation was comprised of 33 sportsmen and women, who competed in 11 sports disciplines. The delegation won nine Paralympic medals and broke a number of world records.
President Herzog began by saying: “You brought the whole People of Israel some extremely happy and moving moments. We followed you and kept in contact with you, almost every day. We kept stopping our working day for another moment of the pride and joy that you brought us.
“Anyone who has ever competed in or even closely watched sports knows that it is not enough to be strong or agile to win. At the moment one’s muscles start to hurt… the doubts begin to nag. There are also voices in our heads that try to persuade us to give up, to drop it, to try again later… In sport, without the ability to persevere, without genuine attention to one’s body and abilities, without faith in the mighty powers of the soul that animate us, even the strongest and most agile athletes will lose.”
President Herzog addressed the powerful edge of Israel’s Paralympic athletes, emphasizing: “Having dealt with challenges from the day you were born, having blazed your own trail with perseverance, determination, and awesome willpower, you are all experts in the use of mental power. The spirit that you bring with you to sports is something that should be studied and should inspire. You keep winning because you believe it is possible. Because you know that you mustn’t sit quietly and wait for victory to come; you must bring it, with all your might. With the help of willpower, choice, hard work, and perseverance.”
Concluding his remarks: “In the journey that each and every one of you is on, you are a living lighthouse for all those who, like you, want to spread their wings and fly. You are proof that even when it is hard when the heart wants something, anything is possible. I am proud—we are all proud—to belong to a country with such fine sportsmen and women. May you have every success, and may you reach new records and peaks. May you all have a sweet and happy new year, and may you be inscribed in the book of life!”
Culture and Sports Minister Tropper: “We always want to think that sport is bigger than just a result on the scoreboard, a medal on the podium, or victory at the last second. In recent weeks, you have told us a great, beautiful, and rich story about sport and achievements, but you have also told us a great and beautiful story about life and human beings. The Paralympic Games were a show of willpower, aspiration for excellence, and the great human spirit.”
Speaking first for the athletes was Paralympic gold medalist and swimmer Ami Dadaon: “The opportunity to represent the country, and bring pride and happiness to the whole People of Israel, and hear HaTikvah six times at the games, especially at a difficult year like the one we have just had—it’s a huge privilege. The whole delegation and I felt that we were representatives of the State of Israel, that everyone believed in us and was rooting for us. I hope that our achievements will set in motion a process that will improve Paralympians’ rights and put them at the top of the world.”
The President and his wife posed for numerous photos after the formal program outside of the main entrance of Beit Hanasi. Participants wishing each other a good and healthy new year and easy fast with Yom Kippur starting on Wednesday evening.