Let the games begin -- the North American Maccabi Youth Games that will bring 2,600 young athletes from around the world to Baltimore for a week-long sports festival starting Sunday.
Jewish boys and girls ages 13 through 16 will form 56 delegations, mostly from the United States and Canada. Others will come from Mexico, Venezuela, Great Britain, Israel, Australia and several states of the former Soviet Union.
The biennial Maccabi Games, introduced 10 years ago in Memphis, Tenn., are being held in the Baltimore area for the first time. Like the modern Olympics and Israel's Maccabiah Games, the event will test participants' acumen in basketball, gymnastics, track and field, swimming, soccer, volleyball and wrestling. The program will also include softball, table tennis, golf, karate and racquetball -- pastimes not quite in the Olympic tradition, yet nonetheless popular, competitive and entertaining.