BEACHWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Opening ceremonies for the Gay Games will be at the Quicken Loans arena Saturday Night. Six Israeli athletes will be among the participants. Several of them just arrived from Israel where there has been danger every day.
Aviv Collen will be participating in distance running events during the Gay Games. Less than 24 hours ago, he was in Tel Aviv.
"Most of Israel is under the attacks. We also have the sirens. So we went into shelters nearly on a daily basis," said Collen.
For him and many of the other athletes who've traveled from Israel, participating in the Gay Games will help them take their minds off of what's happening back home.
Israeli athletes spent part of Thursday evening at a welcoming ceremony at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood.
"Very nice to be here and to take part in the Jewish community over here," said Triathlon runner Barak Gershon.
"It's just wonderful seeing people from all over the world," Collen said.
"You go to every business and there's a pride flag over there and it's a great feeling to feel so welcomed by Cleveland. I think Cleveland did a remarkable job of welcoming all the athletes," said Elad Strohmayer who is participating in the sailing events.
Violence can erupt in Israel at anytime. For now, these athletes will try to enjoy a few days away from all the turmoil.
"It's a vacation. It's great. But our heart is in Israel. We think about them all the time."
For a full list of what's happening at the Games, click HERE.