In spite of this event is big and international, not everybody knows about it, what is not fair, because I think that this event and these Games lean toward inclusion and equality, bringing and uniting people together. The name of this international event is the Deaflympics. I discovered about the Deaflympics in 2017, when I was looking for some sport volunteering opportunities and found out that in 2017 the Summer Deaflympics Games were held in Samsun, Turkey. Since that time, I am following that movement.
The initial name was the World Games for the Deaf, later it was changed for the Deaflympics. It is a big international sport event at an elite level for deaf athletes. As well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Deaflympics are held every four years, dividing for the Summer and Winter Games. The first Games were in Paris in 1924. 21 cities in 17 countries hosted the Summer Deaflympic Games (Germany hosted it two times: in 1931 in Nuremberg and 1981 in Cologne). As for the Winter Deaflympic Games - there were 16 cities in 11 countries (Germany hosted 2 times in 1955 in Oberammergau, and 1967 in Berchtesgaden). I was so surprised and proud to know that my country – Russia, was the host of the last winter games held in Khanty-Mansiysk and Magnitogorsk in 2015!
So how do athletes are qualified and compete at the Games? First of all, to be qualified for the competitions, every athlete should have a hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in his or her better ear. To make everybody equal at the competition, athletes are not allowed to use hearing aids and implants. During the competitions no whistles, horns or starter’s guns can be used because the athletes cannot be guided by sounds but instead referees use lights and flags. As for the spectators – they do not applause or clap, they just wave with their both hands.
Volunteering at the Deaflympics:
I consider volunteering at the Deaflympics as a real unique experience. But to become a Deaflympics volunteer, especially if you want to work with delegations and athletes - you have to speak the international sign language. The next winter Deaflympics Games will be in Valchiavenna, Italy from 12-21 December, 2019.The call for volunteers has not been opened yet, but I think coming soon and you can always check it out at http://www.2019deaflympics.com/volunteers/.
The motto of the Deaflympics is «Per ludos aequalitas», which means «Equality through sport». And I find this motto completely amazing. Sport is for all. Sport is a human right. Not so many things in a society, unfortunately, can play an essential role in breaking stereotypes, barriers and prejudices. Sport, as one whole thing, is one of those fewest tools which serves as a platform for integration and inclusion, encouragement and empowerment for every person, regardless of ability or disability. I think that the Deaflympics is one of those unique and important events our society needs to prove that people with disabilities can do and play sport equally as any other people.
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YxrL_gKtKU - Deaflympics 2017: Opening Ceremony of the 23rd Summer Deaflympics