Its has been a week since the ICSD called for peace ahead of the 2021 Summer Deaflympics in Brazil and many are wondering what is happening about its Russian staff and the ongoing Court case.
The ICSD Board met on 5 March and in solidarity with their Ukraine members, agreed to follow the IOC, IPC and demands from its own members by banning all athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus from invitations or taking part in any international competitions on the ICSD calendar until further notice.
This decision will have an economic impact on this Summer’s Deaflympic games to be held in Brazil and it has been decided to cancel the Bowling programme because the technical requirements will need a heavy financial commitment which has been lost due to the number of countries who are not sending teams to compete as well as the banishment of Russia and Belarus.
Taipei have written to ICSD to say that it was an ‘unwise’ decision to cancel the bowling because athletes have been preparing for 4 – 4.5 years for the competition and they have requested that the ICSD reconsider its decision.
Meanwhile, National Sports Federations have been consulting with their governments for advice on how they should engage with International Federations which have significant Russian influence in their leadership. The ICSD’s Chief Executive, Dmitry Rebrov is Russian and people have been asking what should be done about his influence on Deaf sport especially due to the fact that he has been found guilty of falsifying audiograms and recently took control of ICSD by preventing the previously elected board from accessing their official ICSD emails and servers.
The ICSD and its CEO are now facing a challenge in court over the validity of the recent Extraordinary Congress in Switzerland where the new board was elected. The latest updates with letters and videos on the court case are available on Facebook.
National Federations of Deaf sport are pleading with the ICSD Board to take action against its Russian and Belarusian members. Appeals have also gone out to support Ukrainian athletes.
Yesterday, 3rd March and overnight, after a request for support from the Ukraine Deaf Sports Federation, letters have been sent to the ICSD from national and regional associations including EDSO, Great Britain, Nordic Baltic Federation ( Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden,), Poland and Taiwan urging the ICSD to impose a ban on Russia and Belarus.
Despite condemnation of the invasion from the World Federation of the Deaf, close bonds of the Deaf sports community have been highlighted in expressions of regret that the athletes of Russia and Belarus have to suffer for the actions their governments and heads of state. Lebannon requested that ban should not go ahead because:
“We believe that we should separate the political situations of the world and the sports athletes. it is in our opinion that it is entirely not fair to blame the Russian Deaf athlete for what is happening in Ukraine; the problem is to do with the Russian Government.” (Lebanese Federation of the Deaf)
The ICCD, International Chess Committee of the Deaf, explained why sanctions have to be imposed:
“The Russian and Belarusian deaf athletes have nothing to do with the Kremlin’s decision yet they are tarred with the same brush and face severe consequences. ICCD finds this extremely sad for politics have gotten in the way of deaf sport where there is strong unity between deaf sportsmen. Yet this has to be actioned for the ICSD cannot be exempt from IOC and other sporting authorities.” (ICCD)
Ivan Kulakov, Executive Sport Director of Ukraine Deaf Sport Federation has been sending thanks to those who have shown their support:
“Very grateful for your support for the sanctioning of the occupying countries for the ICSD. We believe that the global deaf community will come to the right conclusion about stopping the war. Sport is a competition between peaceful nations!” (UDSF)
The U-turn of the IPC yesterday to ban Russia and Belarus from the Winter Paralympics was largely a result of pressure from athletes already in the Paralympic village. The ICCD have warned the ICSD not to ignore the situation:
“The ICSD should take into account the Ukraine Deaf Sports Federation’s depleted preparation for the Deaflympics and other major sporting events (chess included). Furthermore, it may seem unlikely that Ukraine will be represented at the Deaflympics; if that is the case, then it would reflect badly on ICSD of both Russia and Belarus are allowed to participate. The would cause uproar from the other ICSD countries.”
The impact on international deaf sport events is already being felt. the European Chess Championships at Cordoba in Spain has been relying on a large number of players from Russia and Ukraine and has now been ‘thrown into chaos’ according to ICCD.
As we wrote earlier this week, Canada is hosting the World Deaf Curling in Banff, Alberta. According to announcements, the Ukrainian curlers have had their entry visas approved and are now on their way to Warsaw to collect he visas and fly out from there. Both the Canadian and Alberta Deaf Sports Associations have agreed to sponsor the expenses of the Ukrainians and they are appealing for donations to support this fund. Any donations can be made by contacting email@example.com
Today the IPC announced that Russia and Belarus can compete at the Winter Paralympics as neutral athletes. Whilst no decisions or statements have been made by the Brazilian and Russian-led ICSD. It is anyone guess which way they will move.
In a statement today, the International Paralympic Committee have announced that the RPC and NPC Belarus will participate as neutrals at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table.
The IPC will host an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2022 “to vote on whether to make compliance with the Olympic Truce a membership requirement and whether to suspend or terminate membership of the Russian and Belarus Paralympic Committees”.
The IPC will not hold any events in Russia or Belarus until further notice.
The ICSD has yet to make a statement, its CEO and staff are Russian, based in Moscow and the registered office is in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The ICSD and IPC presidents are both Brazilian and it is quite possible that ICSD’s Gustavo may follow Andrew Parsons (IPC) and be influenced by the ICSD CEO to go gentle on Russia and Belarus. Brazil are due to host the 2022 Summer Deaflympics in May.
Alisher Usmanov has stepped down as President of the International Fencing Federation, after the European Union imposed economic sanctions on him over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The World Curling Federation has removed the European Championships from Russia. World Athletics, FIFA and International Biathlon Union are amongst sports who have imposed bans.
The global Deaf community has been vocal about the invasion of Ukraine, the World Athletics and Federation of the Deaf has shown its solidarity and support to the Ukraine Federation of the Deaf.
Helga Stevens, former European Member of Parliament commented on social media that she is curious to see what ICSD will do after the world of sport has joined forces to stand by Ukraine. She hopes that ICSD will follow the examples set by the IOC and IPC.
As far as we can see, as we go to press, there have been no statements or decision making from any of the ICSD regional federations, their national members nor associate members.
Comments have been made on social media that the ICSD has been removing comments and posts that mention the invasion on Ukraine.
Russia is scheduled to compete at the Curling event on 12th -26th March 2022. Will travel restrictions stop them or will the event organisers make a symbolic decision?
Jonathan Guinta, ICSD Technical Director for Curling, who is involved in hosting the upcoming World Deaf Curling Championships, in Banff, Alberta not far from his home city of Calgary must be wondering what to do next.
The preliminary list of attending countries includes Russia (RCDS) and Ukraine.
Will the competition organisers make a statement/decision following the advice of the International Olympic Committee that requests a ban on Russian and Belarusians competing internationally.
Media channels are reporting that Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro will not condemn Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Whilst the IOC and several international sports federations are now sanctioning Russian and Belarusian athletes and sports teams from competing in competitions, Bolsonaro has openly mocked the Ukrainian president and remains neutral about the atrocities taking place in Ukraine.
This must be embarrassing for the ICSD who have given Brazil the right to host this years Summer Deaflympics in Caxias du Sol, Southern Brazil. The federation of deaf sport and its regional members have still not spoken out in support of the Deaflympic community in Ukraine.
Perhaps the Deaflympic community of the world believes that the whole thing is a problem for hearing people and hearing sport so they have nothing to do with it. Perhaps the Deaflympics should be left alone, in isolation?
Currently, the IOC has withheld funding from the ICSD due to financial and constitutional concerns within the organisation, perhaps the ICSD Board think they do not need to comply with IOC requests? They have done this in the past, when the IOC and IPC took action over Russian anti-doping violations, the ICSD claimed that it was not directly affected and took no action
Are Deaflympic athletes going to turn away from what is happening to their fellow competitors in Ukraine, and be happy to spend their hard earn money on flights and accommodation in a country where the president mocks the bravery of another leader who stands on the ground with his own people in the face of an illegal and unjustified invader?
Will Deaflympians speak out or will all the media images, air raid sirens, loud bombs and screams fall on deaf ears?
The International Olympic Committee have asked all International sports federations to stop flying the flags of Russia and Belarus at sporting events.
Federations are being asked to cancel all planned sports events in Russia and Belarus or move them to alternative venues..
Leading figures have condemned the attack by Russia and are offering their support to members of the sporting communities in Ukraine.
The European Union governments are uniting in their condemnation and placing sanctions on key people and organisations in Russia and Belarus. As the representative of ICSD in Europe, the EDSO have yet to show their hand.
The ICSD is an international Federation. Will they comply?
Earlier this month, some national representatives inspected the facilities and venues of the 24th Summer Deaflympics.
With less than 4 months remaining, the organisers of the Summer Deaflympics have released videos and pictures on their social media pages to inform of the preparations
Extract from Video Introduction
The Technical Congress of the 24th edition of the Summer Deaflympics was held at UCS Teatro. The event was attended by international delegates representing participating countries, as well as technical directors of the International Committee on Sports for the Deaf (ICSD).
The meeting had plenary sessions, discussions and presentation of the competition manual book in Caxias do Sul – a reference for the delegations. Visits were also made to the game facilities, such as competition venues, training camps and the organization's headquarters, in the Festa da Uva pavilions.
The Summer Deaflympics take place from May 1st to 15th this year, in Caxias do Sul.
Following concerns ICSD members, Caxias 2022 Organising Committee have issued provisional plans for safeguarding Deaflympic athletes against the Coronavirus.
International news sources have been highlighting the political stance of Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his unconventional attitudes towards tacking Covid-19, this has raised concerns from ICSD members that the Caxias 2022 organisers will not be able to provide adequate Covid security for athletes and officials attending next year’s 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias do Sul in Southern Brazil.
Local Organising Committee CEO Richard Douglas Ewald and his team have issued health safety protocols for participants in an attempt to reassure people that it will be safe to attend the games without getting infected. Because of the constant change in the impact of the virus, the protocols are issued as if ‘the competition would be today’ and a final decision on protocol will be issued on 20th March 2022.
What are the Safeguards?
The protocols currently in place state that ten days before departure, Chef de Missions must send a list of all participants who have been vaccinated at least 2 weeks before departure and everyone must have proof of negative PCR results 72 hours prior to departure.
Travel instructions direct teams to travel to a regional airport Porto Alegre Salgado Filho International Airport where everyone will have to test negative on a Rapid Antigen test before receiving a Welcome Pack and transportation to the Accreditation centre in Caxias do Sul.
Anyone who tests positive in the Rapid Antigen test or has been unable to get PCR tested before travel (or claim to have lost proof of tests in transit) will, at their own expense, have to take a PCR test upon arrival at the airport and be held in isolation until the result is issued. If they test negative, they can travel on to Caxias. Anyone testing positive will be referred to hospital for treatment following Brazilian medical protocols.
Travellers without a valid vaccination Certificate will be quarantined for 5 days in the ‘final destination city’ and then they will have to produce a negative PCR test at the end of isolation otherwise they will be referred to hospital for treatment.
There are further special rules for people originating or passing through South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. (No details were given in the protocol) it can be reasonably assumed this may related to the Omicron variant.
Will this information satisfy Chef de Missions?
Chef de Missions, Medical and security officers will now examine the content of the protocol and determine whether this gives them reassurance that their athletes and officials will be Covid secure.
One possible question that will need to be answered will be the concern of cross contamination between athletes of different nations who are likely to board planes taking the domestic route to the local airport and then how are they going to ensure that there is further protections from those athletes/officials who will have been unvaccinated whilst everyone is waiting in the arrivals terminal, for example, to collect personal belongings at the luggage carousel and then in the airport when waiting to be tested.
There is a second Travel Package communication declaring that five days before the Opening Ceremony special buses will be laid on to transport accredited persons from their hotels to a central transit and information point which has been named Deaflympic Square which will be accessible by accredited persons for central information and also serve as a transport exchange hub between the sports venues.
There is no further information explaining how athletes and officials will be safeguarded against infections by the local population. The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games protocols strictly forbade any ‘tourism’, sightseeing or shopping by athletes in order to protect their health. There was no ‘hanging around’ after their events had concluded as people travelled home immediately afterwards. Reading the Travel Package clearly shows that athletes will be housed in local hotels and they will be have access to a sightseeing and shopping app which suggests that there are currently no plans to further isolate anyone once they have tested negative on arrival at the local airport.