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The "Deaflympics" (Deaf Olympics)
By Jake Clark
All across the world almost everyone knows what the Olympics is. The most elite athletes in the world are gathered in one place to compete for their country. The Special Olympics are for those with intellectual disabilities and the Paralympics are for those with some type of physical disability. However, how are the Deaf supposed to compete in the Olympics? They cannot hear the sound of a gunshot on the track or the blow of the official’s whistle on the basketball court. It’s not fair for the Deaf to be excluded just because of their disability. The Deaflympics were born to give Deaf athletes the chance to compete for their countries. The Deaflympics serve more of a purpose than to just give the Deaf a chance to compete for gold… the purpose of the games is in the history behind the Deaflympics.
The founder of the Deaflympics was a Deaf man named Eugène Rubens-Alcaise. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). He was already the President of the French Deaf Sport Federation. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d). Around the time of the first Deaflympics, hearing people thought the Deaf were “not smart” or lacking in intelligence. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). In other words, the Deaf were considered outcasts of society. Therefore, Eugène Rubens-Alcaise created the Deaflympics as a way to show hearing people that the Deaf were not outcasts but amazing individuals with lots of intellect and talents. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.).
The first Deaflympics were held in Paris 1924. ("Deaf Olympics - Start ASL.” n.d.). This was also the first international event for disabled athletes and was the second international event for competitive games of any kind. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). At the time of the first Deaflympics, it was not called the Deaflympics; instead it was named the Silent Games. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d). The first Silent Games/Deaflympics had only nine European countries and only 148 athletes competing. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). The number of athletes steadily increased, as did the number of countries participating. For example, the 2009 Deaflympics steadily increased to 2,493 Deaf athletes competing from 77 countries. ("Games | Deaflympics." Games | Deaflympics. n.d.). In the most recent Deaflympics games there were 2,711 Deaf athletes competing from 83 countries. ("Sofia 2013 Countries Participated:" n.d.). The next Deaflympics will be opening in 2017 on July 18th and ending on July 30th and will be held in Samsun, Turkey. ("Olympic Heroes With Hearing Loss." n.d.).
After the first Deaflympics, in 1924, Eugène Rubens-Alcaise along with the help of Antoine Dresse set up the International Committee of Silent Sports or the CISS. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d). Later, the name of the organization changed and is now known as the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf or the ICSD. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d). With the number of countries competing in the summer Deaflympics, the ICSD decided to add a winter Deaflympics, which was first held in 1949. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.).
Both summer and winter Deaflympics are held every 4 years, just like the modern Olympic games. The only exception was in 1943 and 1947 when the summer Deaflympics were interrupted because of World War II. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). The only exception for the winter Deaflympics was in 1955 in Oberammergau, Germany when there was an eight-year gap between the Winter Deaflympics due to a fraud scandal with the funds of the games. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d).
To qualify for the Deaflympics the Deaf athletes must have a hearing loss of 55 BD in their good “ear”. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). Also, unlike the Olympics, Paralympics and even the Special Olympics, athletes are not allowed to use hearing aids in the Deaflympics; instead they use visual signs like flags waving and flashing lights. ("Deaflympics." Deaflympics. n.d.). The spectators are expected to wave their hand instead of clap and cheer. (“ICSD| Deaflympics.” ICSD| Deaflympics n.d).
Even though the Deaflympics was the first international event for disabled athletes, it does not get the same publicity that the Olympics and Paralympics get. (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d.) Most of the Deaf athletes have to pay their own way to go to the Deaflympics. (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d.) This is not fair to the Deaf athletes because they do not get the same treatment that an athlete who is not Deaf gets. Because the Deaflympics does not draw the same media publicity that the Olympics and Paralympics draw the Deaf athletes have to work harder to fund their training and participation in the Deaflympics (The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d.).
The Deaflympics are more than just the Olympics for the Deaf. The purpose, history and development of the Deaflympics established truth for anyone who mistakenly believed the Deaf were inferior in intellect or athleticism. Today, many Deaflympic athletes are able to show pride in their country and pride in being Deaf while displaying their amazing athleticism and skills.
“Deaflympics." Deaflympics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.
Retrieved from- http://www.deafsports.org.uk/deaflympics.html
"Deaf Olympics - Start ASL." Start ASL. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Retrieved from- https://www.start-american-sign-language.com/deaf-olympics_html
"Games | Deaflympics." Games | Deaflympics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.
"Games | Deaflympics." Games | Deaflympics. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2016.
“ISCD | Deaflympics.” ICSD | Deaflympics. N.P., n.d. Wed. 28 Aug. 2016
"Olympic Heroes With Hearing Loss." Hearing Rehab Center RSS. N.P., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Retrieved from http://www.hearingrehabcenter.com/olympic-heroes-hearing-loss/
"Sofia 2013 Countries Participated." N.p., n.d. Web.
Retrieved from https://www.deaflympics.com/games.asp?2013-s
The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Retrieved from- http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/deaflympics-deaf-athletes-get-set-but-who-is-watching-the-silent-games-8732555.html
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