It is outrageous that the City of Tel Aviv, Gillette, Addidas, Neviot water and the rest of the sponsors have refused to take responsibility for the death of Michael Michaelovitch, the runner who died during this morning’s half-marathon in Tel Aviv, and for the dozens more who suffered moderate-to-serious heat stroke during the race. Meterologists have been warning for the past week that a powerful, one-day heat wave was due to hit Israel today; to their credit, marathon organisers postponed the full marathon competition, but said they could not push off the entire event because US President Obama’s visit next week.
While Mr Michaelovitch z”l had a responsibility to monitor his physical well-being while running, it is also true that heat stroke can affect even the most physically fit athletes, often with little warning. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai must take responsibility for ignoring pleas by the Health Ministry and allowing the race to proceed. Furthermore, the City of Tel Aviv should let the event’s sponsors that the municipality will no longer back athletic events with their support. There is no shortage of major corporations that would happily sponsor the Tel Aviv Marathon in future years.
Lastly, the ultimate test of how “sorry” Mayor Huldai, Tel Aviv city hall and the sponsors are for today’s tragedy will not be in the coming days and weeks, but in 2014. Next year’s marathon is scheduled for 4th April. Will the City of Tel Aviv demand that the race be rescheduled for late January or early February?