He introduced Madonna and world-class biking to Israel. Now he is eyeing the World Cup.

He introduced Madonna and world-class biking to Israel. Now he is eyeing the World Cup.

Sylvan Adams, center, with Lionel Messi after the French Tremendous Cup recreation in Tel Aviv on July 31, 2022. Photograph by Seffi Magriso

By Hillel Kuttler

August 05, 2022

TEL AVIV — The 30,000 followers filling Bloomfield Stadium to near-capacity cheered wildly when Lionel Messi and Neymar, two of soccer’s largest stars, scored targets in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 victory over F.C. Nantes within the French Tremendous Cup right here on Sunday evening.
However worldwide viewers of the sport’s broadcast have been extra the audiences Sylvan Adams, 64, had in thoughts when he introduced the sport right here.
Similar when he paid the Giro d’Italia, the world’s second-most-important highway biking race, to carry its first three phases all through Israel in 2018.
A Montreal native who immigrated to Israel in 2016, Adams imports massive sports activities occasions to Israel to garner media protection that showcases his adopted homeland as — in his phrases — “a traditional, Western democracy.”
That’s additionally why Adams co-sponsors the Israel-Premier Tech bike workforce that competes within the Union Cycliste Internationale’s World Tour.
Sylvan Adams, center, along with his Israel Premier-Tech riders coaching in Girona, Spain, on January 2002. Photograph by Noa ArnonvcHe’s now organizing a motorcycle race, dubbed The Peace Tour, to be held subsequent yr in Israel and two nations with which it signed treaties in 2020: Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
“Sports activities, by far, addresses the best audiences of any exercise on Earth,” he stated in an interview within the penthouse duplex alongside Tel Aviv’s shore the place he lives along with his spouse Margaret.
However Adams has ventured past sports activities to burnish Israel’s popularity. In 2019, he introduced Madonna to Tel Aviv to carry out on the Eurovision music contest and underwrote Israel’s uncrewed spaceship Beresheet that reached the moon earlier than crashing. “We supposed to land in a single piece; we landed in 1,000 items,” he quipped.
He’s aiming even increased.
Adams now seeks to carry one in every of sports activities’ grandest occasions, soccer’s World Cup, to Israel in 2030.
He’s placing collectively a joint bid with Egypt and Morocco, an effort he’ll pursue whereas visiting Qatar for this autumn’s World Cup.
“I don’t give a hoot about soccer,” Adams stated. “It’s not about me. It’s not about what I like. It’s about what different folks like.”
Followers within the International Ministry
Tal Brody, who serves in a volunteer place because the Israeli overseas ministry’s ambassador of goodwill, sees Adams as a nationwide asset — somebody who understands the worth of selling the nation by means of sports activities and has the means to carry main athletic occasions right here.
It’s a subject Brody is aware of one thing about. As a basketball star who’d immigrated from New Jersey, Brody led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the 1977 European Cup championship, an achievement he famously proclaimed on the time put Israel “on the map.”
Adams’s mission “has its weight in gold on the subject of public diplomacy,” stated Brody. “The general public ought to perceive he’s doing very, excellent issues for Israel.”
That features constructing a velodrome close to Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, athletic-training facilities at Tel Aviv College and Beersheva’s Ben-Gurion College, an emergency division at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and a pediatric division at Holon’s Wolfson Medical Heart. Adams not too long ago contributed $1 million to finish a motorcycle path in Elad following a terrorist assault there that killed three folks in Might.
Mark Mendelsohn, Adams’s pal from Montreal, stated he “has turn out to be some of the essential Israelis within the worldwide area.”
The Jerusalem Put up final yr listed him eleventh among the many world’s 50 most influential Jews and dubbed him the nation’s “particular envoy.”
A survivor’s son
Adams made his fortune with Iberville Developments, the Canadian actual property firm his late father based. His Israel-related philanthropy runs to “the a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars},” Adams stated.
Adams’s father, Marcel Abramovici, was a Holocaust survivor from Romania who labored as a butcher and a dealer in animal felts earlier than touchdown in actual property. He lived to be 100.
Eventually week’s Ichilov Hospital dedication, Prime Minister Yair Lapid advised Adams that Marcel “will surely be pleased with you right this moment.”
It’s a sentiment Marcel’s buddies conveyed over time, though he “was not the form of particular person to lavish compliments on his youngsters” straight, Adams stated.
The comment by Lapid “made my eyes moist,” Adams stated.
The pleasure and politics of biking
As a toddler, Adams performed a number of sports activities. A pal launched him to biking, and he was hooked. On the current worldwide sports activities pageant in Israel, the Maccabiah, Adams earned three gold medals and a silver in biking’s masters (seniors) division.
Due to biking’s recognition overseas, Adams splashes Israel’s identify throughout workforce buses and jerseys. Slightly than draw hostility, such visibility usually reveals followers’ open-mindedness, he stated.
He had the identical thought once more ultimately month’s Tour de France, biking’s premier occasion. As is his behavior, Adams cycled forward of the workforce earlier than every day’s stage. He noticed a whole lot of individuals camped out for good spots. Many cheered him by calling out in French, “Israel, allez, allez, allez!” (Let’s go, Israel).

“You’ll be able to’t think about how pleasant the crowds have been to us. They’re simply sports activities followers, prone to having their minds polluted in opposition to us by the haters. They see us doing the game we love and embrace us,” he stated.
Israel’s critics can’t be swayed, he stated, whereas these disinterested in worldwide affairs however keen about sports activities could be reached.
“I like biking. I like Israel,” he stated. “I’m utilizing sport for diplomatic functions and to boost our profile in a really constructive approach.”
Adams practically plotzed on July 6 when Simon Clarke, an Australian, turned the primary rider representing Israel to win a stage on the Tour de France, a feat replicated two weeks later by Hugo Houle, a Canadian additionally representing Israel.
The stage wins have been “extremely gratifying,” Adams stated.
In that race and others, Adams additionally welcomed interactions with Israel’s critics. “I get challenged, and I like to be challenged,” he stated. He stated he’s much less affected person with those that argue that Israel’s embrace of homosexual rights, the setting and even sports activities is a approach for the nation to gloss over its therapy of Palestinians.
“Each time we attempt to do one thing virtuous, we’re charged with hiding behind virtuous acts,” he stated. “My initiatives are usually not there to persuade them or have interaction them. They’re to attraction to the silent majority.”
In Rwanda, Israel-Premier Tech sponsors youngsters’s and younger ladies’s groups and is constructing a biking heart. Over the previous yr, Adams and others resettled greater than 200 refugees from Afghanistan, together with a number of the nation’s prime feminine cyclists, primarily in Western Europe.
“I name the bike workforce the workforce of the Jewish folks. We now have ‘Israel’ on the jersey as a result of it’s my model,” Adams stated. “I name myself the ambassador of biking. I’m utilizing the workforce to construct bridges.”

Author-editor Hillel Kuttler could be reached at [email protected]illelTheScribeCommunications.com.

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