Sports and physical activities are a part of the increasing variety of leisure activities and pastimes that are becoming popular among Israelis. This thriving leisure culture has led to the evolution of a sports tourism industry that has begun to earn an international reputation.
Israel offers numerous local and international sports events that attract athletes and fans from all over the world. Soccer, basketball, judo, tennis, and skiing are only some of the most predominant and popular sports that attract onlookers and participants of all ages. Sports tourism is open to everyone: amateurs, fans, professional athletes and their trainers and coaches who come for a range of activities from training camps through friendship games to international championship competitions.
Amateur athletes and sportspeople come to enjoy sports activities while relaxing and enjoying their vacation. All have a common desire – to enjoy high quality, healthy sports activities in an atmosphere of pleasure and sportsmanship, and to use their leisure time to become acquainted with parts of Israel that lie outside the sports stadiums and gymnasiums -- the historic tourist sites, nature reserves and urban environments.
The best-known sports sites in Israel include the diving sites in Eilat, the golf courses in Caesarea and Gaash, the Hermon ski slopes, the Nokia Sports Stadium in Tel Aviv, which hosts the best basketball games, the great tennis courts of Ramat HaSharon, the Ramat Gan Stadium, which hosts international soccer matches, and the beaches that have exciting wind surfing and sailing competitions. Organized walks, hikes, and marathon races are held throughout the country, and there are also all-terrain-vehicle competitions and excursions throughout the Negev. Groups of cyclists ride throughout the countryside from the Hermon to Eilat.
The largest mass sports event in Israel is the Maccabiah, which is held every four years. The Maccabiah is a rare opportunity for Jewish athletes from all over the world to come to Israel, tour the country, and participate in competitions. The Maccabiah is a colorful sports event for tourists and sports lovers alike who wish to show their support and love for sports and for Israel.