Jerusalem, Israel - June 19, 2024  - President Isaac Herzog hosted the Israeli Olympic and Paralympic delegations for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, on Wednesday morning, June 19, at Beit Hanasi, in Jerusalem, Israel. 

The reception was attended by the Minister of Culture and Sports Miki Zohar, the Chairman of the Olympic Committee, Yael Arad, and the Chairman of the Paralympic Committee, Moshe Matlon, plus representatives of the families of the hostages, the widows of the Munich victims, Ilana Romano and Anki Spitzer and the athletes. 

The President greeted the delegations with a blessing of success and said: "We are proud that you are the ones who represent us, we are proud that you trained for years to reach this moment, you invested days and nights, tears and sweat, and we are proud of you because we are sure that you will represent us the best in the world, bring the sportsmanship spirit Israeli to the forefront.

The State of Israel has an ambassador who represents us in France. This time, you will all be our ambassadors in France and around the world. You represent us not only on the field, on the track, or in the gym but also before and after the competitions. Because of the war we are in, because of the difficult period, because of our dream and longing to return the abducted and the hostages home soon,  I think, maybe one of them will be able to see which of you, or hear you somewhere in Gaza. Think about the fact that you are going to the field, to the race. Think about them. We will all think of them and hope to see them soon.

On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I wish you great success! We are all with you behind you!"

The Minister of Culture and Sports, Miki Zohar: "You have won, there is no other definition for it, to represent the State of Israel in the upcoming Olympics, perhaps at the most difficult time for the State of Israel, and with the ability to make so happy and so good for all the citizens of Israel, wherever they are, with the achievements you will bring in the Olympics, and this is a huge privilege, and as far as we're concerned, we're all crossing our fingers and looking forward to the successes you'll bring."

Yael Arad, Chairman of the Olympic Committee: "In another 37 days, the athletes of the State of Israel, accompanied by professional teams who dedicated and continue to dedicate all their time and abilities to fulfill the dream of excellence, will represent us on the world stage. Since October 7th, we are all in heavy mourning and the preparations for the games in Paris are in the shadow of loss, in the shadow of the difficult war and the loss of so many families, in the shadow of the numerous wounded, and the terrible fact that we still have 120 abductees and abductees in Gaza. The athletes prove to us and to the whole world, that Israeli athletes are made of the special material from which champions grow. To be the best and thereby represent the State of Israel with pride on the international stage in times when we need it so much."

Moshe "Motz" Matlon, Chairman of the Paralympic Committee: "Fortunately, at this challenging time, after many efforts, we are fielding a magnificent and exemplary Israeli team, gender equal and including veterans, immigrants, Muslims and Druze. Civil society proved itself once again, rallied to help at this difficult time, when all attention was on the war and the IDF, and with the help of generous donations from all the sponsors, and thanks to them we were able to set up a budget for this national goal.'