We talked to Motti Tichaer, chairman of the European Maccabi Confederation in Budapest.
– Budapest won the bid to host the 2019 European Maccabi Games in the fall of 2015. You have been monitoring the work of the organizing committee since then. What is your opinion on their work so far?
– The host country has never been selected so early in the process in the past, so there were four years for planning and organizing. We made this decision because before the previous games – in Berlin – Madrid would have been the host, but backed out due to financial reasons, so Berlin had to fill in and they only had 15 months to prepare.
– That must have been difficult, as we still have that much time until the opening ceremony.
– It was very stressful which is why we wanted to allow more time for the preparations. Four years may seem like a lot in retrospect, but it looks like everything is progressing nicely.
– What kind of steps were taken first?
– The most important preparation point was finding the optimal organizing committee and the leadership for that committee. As president of the EMC, I can safely say that Budapest made the right choices. Each leader has the talent to put the right people around him/her. Everyone is very cooperative and I have no doubt in my mind that the games will be successful in terms of human resources.
– Are there any open questions left?
– Obviously, there are still difficulties as with every great project, but these will hopefully be resolved by the end of July, 2019. Jewish people tend to be very optimistic and we never give up hope. Two days ago, the managing director assured me that everything will be done in time.
– You have visited the venues. What were your experiences?
– There are some appealing ones and there are some with smaller problems, but I see the potential for change and optimizations with every venue. So far, the Hungarian government kept all of its promises.
– What are your thoughts on the 2019 games?
– It could be the biggest, most successful and most deliberate event in Europe since 1929. It will be historic since the games will return to Central-Europe after 90 years, which is very important for the Jewish community and traditions.
– A new member has entered the confederation since then.
– Yes. We made it public last week that MTK Budapest will be joining the EMC. The fact that MTK Budapest’s home, the New Nándor Hidegkuti Stadium is involved – which is part of the worldwide Maccabi family – is an added bonus for the games. The club’s colours are blue and white, which are also the colours of Maccabi and Judaism and is a part of our identity. I can speak for the whole Maccabi movement when I say that we are very grateful to MTK Budapest and Maccabi VAC to have found such partners. Maybe if they do a good job, they can organize again in four years – said Motti Tichauer with a smile on his face.