Giro d’Italia, the second most important bike race in the world, after the Tour de France, which is scheduled to begin on May 4, 2018 in Israel and run through Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea and the Negev, is in danger of being canceled because organizers have implied that Jerusalem is a divided city.
About a month ago it was reported that the first day of the competition will be a “race against the clock” for 10 kilometers around the city of Jerusalem. The intro page for the Israeli stage of the race states: “Looking back to history and making history with the Giro, a Giro which is already history. This will be a special Giro, and we already knew it right after the Big Start from Jerusalem was announced.”
But, at the same time, both the race website and its official YouTube channel state that Giro d’Italia would pass through “West Jerusalem” rather than, simply, “Jerusalem.”
In Israel, officials at the Ministries of Strategic Affairs, Tourism, and Culture and Sports, figured the language change was the result of pro-Palestinian elements who wanted to emphasize that East Jerusalem was not part of the capital of the State of Israel.
This angered Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev and Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, who threatened to withdraw their funding and cooperation with the race. They told they Giro d’Italia organizers that “If the promotion on the website does not change the launching point from West Jerusalem, the government of Israel will not be a partner in it.”
Regev and Levin issued a joint statement saying “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, has no East and West. There is only one united Jerusalem. These promotions violate the agreement with the Israeli government. If the promotion text is not changed, the government of Israel will not remain involved in the event.”
At the same time, the race’s Big Start’s honorary president Sylvan Adams issued a strong letter to the organizers of Giro d’Italia, demanding cease immediately any political use or misguided definitions such as “West Jerusalem” in the context of the race.
Adams wrote that there is no city named West Jerusalem, adding, “Jerusalem, the city built by King David, is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and of course the capital of the State of Israel. This is well-known to the Giro organizers who are familiar with the city after their many visits there.”
Adams noted: “Anyone who visits the city sees and knows that there is only one Jerusalem, the home of Jews, Muslims and Christians who live there side by side.”