Tamar Katz

Tamar Katz

The NY Times gives us the absurd story of an Israel figure skater who qualified for the Olympics, but did not qualify to make the Israeli Olympic team.

Tamar Katz, the three-time national champion, met the International Skating Union’s standards for Olympic eligibility. But the Olympic Committee of Israel has a rule that says a skater must place among the top 14 at the European championships to earn a trip to the Olympics, the group’s president said. Katz finished 21st at the recent championships in Tallinn, Estonia.

“This issue is not about resources or gender — it’s purely professional,” Efraim Zinger, the secretary general for the Israeli Olympic Committee, said in a telephone interview. “We set the target about two years ahead of time for our athletes. Those who don’t make it must stay back. Some countries’ main goals are to participate, some send their athletes to win. We are interested in our athletes reaching the top.”

Let me guess. One day, Efraim Zinger, having nothing better to do with his time, and upset that Syria had beaten Israel to its first Olympic gold medal, decided that Israel should only send “top” international athletes. What is “top?” Hmmmm…Wait, I know! Let’s make it the top 14 spots! After all, the Olympics isn’t about competing, it’s about WINNING. In fact, there are rumors that Mr. Zinger is considering shutting down the country of Israel and dispersing its citizenry because it doesn’t rank in the top 14 (or 20, for that matter) internationally in population size, GDP, per capita income, water resources or average male height.

So here is Tamar, working away year after year, her parents paying private coaches small fortunes to train her, just for a chance to compete at the highest level of amateur competition. The World Championships are good, but the Olympics, as we all know, are the dream of every athlete. They are certainly Tamar’s dream. And her dream is infused with representing Israel at the Olympics because apparently she loves her country. AND SHE WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO QUALIFY.

Tamar, trying and failing to not be cute

Tamar, trying and failing to not be cute

Sadly, her country has decided that it has so many eligible winter athletes (4) to send to the Winter Olympics, that they can skip over a skater who’s likely to end up in the top 20 IN THE WORLD in her sport. A young woman who would proudly bear her Israeli connection and present it to an international and Canadian audience in the positive light that surrounds figure skating in general. A figure skater, representing Israel, a country with virtually no snow or ice, who is attractive and can speak English without an accent.



Would somebody explain to these people that there’s a much smarter way to run Israel’s Olympic team?

Here is an interview with Tamar.

Here is Tamar’s website. Make sure to look at the photos in the Media section, to see how photogenic the young woman looks with “Israel” plastered on her uniform.

A Facebook “support” group can be found here.

The Olympic Committee of Israel can be reached at [email protected]
Phone, +972 3 649 8385. Fax, +972 3 649 8395

The Israel Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is led by:
Minister of Education, Gideon Sa`ar, MK at 972-2-560 2330 and its Director General, Shimshon Shoshani, Ph.D, who can be found at 972-2-560 2242.

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  • If she was Canadian, she’d likely be our pride and joy like Clara Hughes. And aside from hockey, Canada doesn’t really tend to win much, so it would be ridiculous for us to only send “top” athletes. Even though it is on our soil, I’m not expecting us to dominate things this year.

  • No, trust me on this Tom, this is typical of Israeli bureaucracy. I’m willing to bet that half the people on this Olympic committee have no actual qualifications to be in the jobs they possess, but either knew somebody or were in senior positions in the military and were given this role as a thank you.

    This story is so stupid, it’s funny. Imagine the head of Israel’s Olympic efforts having to explain to a NY Times reporter why a tiny country that doesn’t produce many world-class athletes would deny an opportunity to its national champion who is a top-20 international competitor to compete at the Olympics.

    Maybe these folks prefer the current media ambassadors for Israel? Why have an attractive young woman without an accent discuss skating and love of sport and Israel when you can have yet another politician or general speaking heavily accented Hebrew trying to explain some settlement policy or Gaza attack? Sheesh!

  • In four years she should go to the Olympics for some country that is glad about every top athlete they can send and doesn’t have any world class figure skaters of its own…try Lichtenstein or Luxembourg.