Ben Hermans of the Israel Cycling Academy crosses the finish line at the Tour of Austria on July 10, 2019. Ben Hermans of the Israel Cycling Academy crosses the finish line at the Tour of Austria on July 10, 2019. Ben Hermans of the Israel Cycling Academy crosses the finish line at the Tour of Austria on July 10, 2019. (Photo: JFK / AFP via Getty Images)

6 Israeli stories we’re looking forward to in 2020

The year ahead looks to be a remarkable one in tech, entertainment and sports.

The dawn of a new decade is here, and with it comes a host of stories. We're planning our editorial calendar for the year ahead and have already marked half a dozen stories we're looking forward to covering. Here's your sneak peek:

Israeli team will compete at Tour de France for first time

The Israeli Cycling Academy has helped spark a cycling renaissance since it was founded in 2014. They have opened up cycling schools across the country and helped construct Israel's first velodrome. In the spring of 2018, Jerusalem became the first city outside of Europe to host a leg of the Giro d'Italia, one of the sport's biggest events. And this year, for the first time ever, an Israeli team will be participating at the Tour de France. The team of 30 riders is the brainchild of Sylvan Adams, a Canadian philanthropist and avid cyclist who moved to Tel Aviv a few years ago. He has dubbed himself "the self-appointed ambassador to Israel," even printing business cards with that moniker on them. "I want to exhibit Israel to the world at large and show off our wonderful qualities," he told From The Grapevine. The 2020 Tour de France will start in Nice on June 27.

Israel to send its largest-ever delegation to Olympics

Danielle and Lizzymary at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina in 2018. 'She's a bit feisty, and I'm a bit feisty,' said Israeli Olympic hopeful Danielle Goldstein about the similarities between herself and her horse, Lizziemary. (Photo: Courtesy TIEC)

With athletes already qualified in equestrian and track and field, Israel is expected to send close to 100 athletes in 18 sports to the Summer Games in Tokyo, practically doubling the record number of athletes they sent to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Those stats are partly boosted by its upstart baseball team, which ESPN has dubbed as "essentially the Mighty Ducks, Hickory High and the Jamaican bobsled team all rolled into one.” During a European qualifying event this past fall, Israel became one of only six countries who have met the requirements to compete at the 2020 Olympics, giving them a 50% chance of medaling at the event. This will mark the first time that Israel has ever had a baseball team at the Olympic Games. On top of that, judoka Sagi Muki and rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram are both ranked at or near the top of each of their respective sports. All of which means Team Israel is poised for its best Olympic outing at the year's biggest sporting event.

Four Israelis up for Grammy nominations

From left to right: Anat Cohen, Vania Heymann, Gal Muggia and Natan Schottenfels will all be attending the Grammys at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. From left to right: Anat Cohen, Vania Heymann, Gal Muggia and Natan Schottenfels will all be attending the Grammys at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo: Courtesy Anat Cohen; Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Music video directors Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia and their producing partner Natan Schottenfels are no strangers to music's most prestigious night. They have all been previously nominated for Grammys for their work with Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Coldplay. This year, the trio were nominated for their "Glad He's Gone" video for Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo. "I think this might be the best video I've ever done," Lo told Rolling Stone about the moody masterpiece. "It tells the story of the song so well, while being a bizarre mini action movie." They'll be joined at the ceremony by clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen who was nominated in the Best Jazz Ensemble Album category. This will not be Cohen's first trip to the awards ceremony either, as she was nominated for two Grammys in 2017 – Best World Music Album and Best Latin Jazz Album. The 62nd Grammy Awards will be broadcast on CBS on Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

Apple's new iPhone expected to have 3D camera, built in Israel

Apple CEO Tim Cook introducing the new iPhone 11. CEO Tim Cook at an Apple event. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Apple is expected to unveil not one, but two new iPhones in September. The notoriously press-shy Silicon Valley company has not released any of the specific details as of yet, but industry experts are already making predictions: 5G capabilities, a redesigned frame and a better camera. It's the latter that's of interest to technology watchers in Israel. In recent years, Apple has acquired four tech startups in the Mediterranean country – RealFace, PrimeSense, Anobit, and LinX. Several of those technologies help power the phone's camera functionality and, according to early reports, the new iPhones are expected to have a built-in 3D camera. The new lens should help improve depth perception as well as with augmented reality applications. Apple's 180,000-square-foot R&D lab in the coastal Israeli city of Herzliya is its largest outside of the United States. "Apple is in Israel because the engineering talent and the brilliance of the people are incredible," CEO Tim Cook said during a visit to Israel. "We have an enormous admiration for Israel."

'Wonder Woman' sequel arrives in theaters

Fresh off a family ski vacation in France, Israeli actress Gal Gadot is prepping for one of her biggest years to date. She'll start off in Atlanta by filming an action thriller with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. Later this year, she'll appear in a whodunit Agatha Christie murder mystery called "Death on the Nile." But the film that everyone is sure to be talking about is the sequel to 2017's "Wonder Woman" when she returns as the Amazonian superhero. This time-shifting second installment in the franchise brings back love interest Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, and introduces two new villains: "Saturday Night Live" alum Kristen Wiig as Cheetah and "Game of Thrones" star Pedro Pascal as 1980s businessman Max Lord. “The message of this movie is something that I deeply believe in and came to us while we were even working on the first movie,” director Patty Jenkins said. “Wonder Woman is sent out into the world being about love and a belief in [people] and trying to make people better.”

Deni Avdija expected to be top NBA Draft pick

It's rare, but not unheard of, that a player who has not played college basketball in the U.S. is drafted into the NBA. What's even more rare is if that person is one of the league's leading draft picks. Basketball analysts are predicting that this could indeed happen in June when Deni Avdija, a 19-year-old basketball phenom from Israel, is expected to be one of the first players to be chosen in the draft. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs and others have already traveled to Israel to scout the 6'9" forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He's seen as a smart player with impeccable timing – knowing exactly when to shoot and when to pass in a game-winning situation. Tal Brody, who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv during their historic Euroleague win in 1977 and is now a basketball ambassador for Israel, sees great things in Avdija's future. "Deni should go high in the next draft as he is definitely the No. 1 prospect in Europe," Brody told us. "However, the team that drafts him should keep him with Maccabi for another year, at least to mature in the Euroleague."

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6 Israeli stories we’re looking forward to in 2020
The year ahead looks to be a remarkable one in tech, entertainment and sports.