Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Oct 2014

he Mediterranean Games

Until I found the poster on the right, I am pretty sure that I had never heard of the Mediterranean Games. Like the Olympics, the Med Games are a multi-sport event held every four years, mainly for nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea, where Europe, Africa and Asia meet. The symbol of the Med Games is, in fact, a design of three rings to symbolize the coming together of Europe, Asia and Africa.

The idea was proposed at the 1948 Summer Olympics by Muhammad Taher Pasha, chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, and they were first held in 1951. The first 10 games took place one year before the Olympics, but from 1993 on, they were held the year after the Olympic games. The Games were inaugurated in October 1951, in Alexandria, Egypt, in honor of Muhammad Taher Pasha, who proposed the idea. There with contests in 13 sports involving 734 athletes from 10 countries. Since then, the games have been held every four years without  interruption. Usually, 24 countries have participated regularly from Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia; from Asia: Lebanon and Syria; from Europe: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.

Since 1951, the following cities have hosted the games: 1951 Alexandria, 1955 Barcelona, 1959 Beirut, 1963 Naples, 1967 Tunis, 1971 Izmir,  1975 Algiers, 1979 Split, 1983 Casablanca, 1987 Latikia, 1993 Languedoc-Roussillon, 1997 Bari,  2001 Tunis, 2005 Almeria, 2009 Pescara, 2013 Mersin. The games in 2017 will be in Tarragona, Spain. Italy has hosted three times; 1963 in Naples, 1997 in Bari; and 2009 in Pescara. The poster for the 1963 games (above) was actually a collage of two stamps issued for the event: the bottom image represents the swimming lanes of a pool going into the distance towards Vesuvius, while the superimposed image is of a Greek vase present in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

Some nations that are technically not on the Mediterranean also participate, such as San Marino, Andorra, Serbia and Macedonia also participate and others probably will be admitted, such as Bulgaria and Portugal. Also, like anything else involving the Middle East, North Africa, Muslims, Christians and Jews, the elephant in the room is Israel. If Israel were to be admitted, the Mediterranean Games would probably collapse because many Muslim countries would withdraw. Or maybe not; they all seem to run and swim together in the Olympics. I don't even know if Israel wants to participate. In any event, the idea that friendly competition can promote peace and understanding is, I suppose, a noble idea, but we shouldn't delude ourselves. The 1936 Olympics were in Berlin.

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