Why is Israel in the European Championships and how many medals have they won?

Israel has competed in the European Championships for over 30 years

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel celebrates after the women's 10,000m at the European Championships with an Israeli flag
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the greatest athletes across the continent come together for Munich 2022, many have been asking why is Israel in the European Championships?

2022 has seen a summer of great sport, with many of us watching the European Championships (opens in new tab), supporting the Lionesses (opens in new tab) and celebrating the Commonwealth Games (opens in new tab).

There's been a lot for English sports fans to celebrate, after football came home and the team came second in the Commonwealth Games medal table. But England is not the only country celebrating, as Israel made history when their men’s marathon team won gold at Munich 2022. Although, the victory has left many wondering why is Israel in the European Championships?

Why is Israel in the European Championships?

Israel has been part of the European Athletic Association since they were made a ‘temporary’ member by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) in 1989. So, Israel has been competing in the European Championships since 1990.

Before this, Israel competed at the Asian Games from 1954 to 1974, until they were excluded for political reasons. When the Asian Games Federation became the Olympic Council of Asia in 1982, it was thought that Israel would be a security risk due to conflict with other Arab nations represented by the Olympic Council of Asia.

Israel's silver and bronze medallists in the men's marathon at the European Championships holding their medal, either side of the gold medal winner from Germany

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Israel is now a full member of the European Athletic Association after first sending three athletes to the 1990 Championships in Croatia, and has also competed in other European events such as the UEFA football tournaments and the Eurovision Song Contest.

What continent is Israel in?

Israel is in Asia, the Earth's largest and most populous continent. It borders Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt and is roughly 22,000km² in size, with a population of over 9 million.

The capital of Israel is Jerusalem, regarded to be one of the oldest cities in the world.

Is Israel in Europe?

Israel is not in Europe, but it shares a history of cooperation and interdependence with the European Union. For example, the EU is Israel's largest trade market and accounts for about a third of Israel's total trade.

Israel is also a member of associations that enable it to engage in other European contests such as the Eurovision song contest, which it can enter because it is a member of Eurovision and the European Broadcasting Union. It is not unusual for non-European countries to be part of the EBU, with Egypt, Algeria and Jordan all members.

Israel has won Eurovision in 1978, ’79, ’98 and 2018, and has hosted the contest three times.

How many medals has Israel won at the European Championships?

So far, Israel has won nine medals across the European Championships it has participated in. Four gold, two silver and three bronze.

Israel won its first medal at the European Championships in 2002, when Aleksandr Averbukh won gold in the pole vault. At the 2022 event in Munich, Israel has won gold in the men's marathon team event, silver and bronze in the men's marathon individual event, and bronze in the women's 10,000m. They are currently ranking 16th in the medal table for the 2022 Championships.

The country enjoyed more success when competing in the Asian Games, where they won 53 medals - including 18 gold - in their five appearances up until 1974.

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Why is Israel in UEFA?

Israel was expelled from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 1974. Israeli clubs began taking part in European club competitions in 1991 and its football association became a full UEFA member in 1994.

Before this, Israel had competed as a member of the AFC since 1954 and won its only international honour in 1964, when it hosted and won the AFC Asian Cup - though 11 of the 16 nations withdrew from the tournament in protest.

Israel took part in the European 1982 World Cup qualifiers, but then competed in the Oceania groups for 1986 and 1990.

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