As preparations are made for the ICSD Extraordinary Congress in Lausanne Switzerland, delegates are still uncertain about the integrity of governance.
Ever since the resignation of ICSD President Kang in 2020, the Deaflympic movement has seen the leadership plunge into confusion and uncertainty. It is hoped that at the end of this month (November 28-29th) actions will be made to stabilise the organisation. If this is not done, many are fearful for its future.
The governing board of ICSD has split into two camps with both claiming to be in control, both sending out conflicting bulletins and counterclaims leaving members uncertain about who is in charge.
There are mixed messages coming from Brazil, the host nation of the next Summer Deaflympic games – delegates in Congress will be asking which organising committee is viable and it is expected that they will then vote to decide which city will host the games, Rio de Janeiro or Caxias do Sol.
The finances of ICSD have not been agreed by congress since 2013 and somehow the extraordinary meeting will try to approve a financial report covering the 2013 -2019 period.
If that was not enough, the agenda also includes the long awaited ICSD Reform document. The aim of this work was to create a new IDC – International Deaflympic Committee to be recognised as similar in function to the IOC and IPC with each nation having its own National Deaflympic Committee. This work was started in 2008 and observers are concerned that this has taken too long to get ratified that it may be an irrelevance in the current situation.
Whilst these are the main points of concern, the leadership dispute between the group of regional representatives and the CEO versus the remainder of the board has produced TWO alternative agendas with both sides claiming legitimacy and control over congress procedures. An option open to Congress is the election of new leaders.
Congress will also listen to evidence about the legal standing of CEO Rebrov, who has isolated the opposing board members by removing access to their ciss.org emails and office servers. These board members are insisting that Rebrov has been removed from his post and has no legal standing in the organisation.
Because of Covid regulations and restrictions delegates will either be attending in person or on-line via the internet. It is expected that two neutral scrutineers will be appointed to take control of proceedings and ensure integrity.
Onlookers are concerned that the situation is being observed by officials at the IOC and its membership of the Olympic movement is at risk. However, there are several other International Federations in mainstream sport that are also facing governance challenges of corruption, insubordination, abdication, and dereliction of duty etc. The IOC policy is not to get involved with internal conflicts and encourages the federations to resolve their own problems.
The question being asked is: Will a two- or three-day meeting be enough to get things in order?
The two camps of the ICSD Board have now issued conflicting dates and venues for the ICSD Congress and Summer Deaflympics.
The Original ICSD Board (Lamberton, Adam, Grigoryan, Kihtir and Lusic) have announced via the Brazilian Sports Federation that the Summer Deaflympic Games will be moved to Rio de Janeiro and take place in November 2022. organisers claim that they have government backing for this and Board representatives will be meeting with local and national representatives soon.
This causes confusion as the new camp (Perazzolo, Rebrov, Pargar, Madoun, Stavrakakis, Squella) still insist that the games will be in Caxias do Sol in May 2022.
Furthermore the original Board have sent out joining papers and registration forms for the Congress to take place in Istanbul 5 – 6th November 2021.
Some countries, notably, Pan-American nations (via a chain-letter) are arguing for Congress to go ahead in Lausanne on 28 – 29th November.
This news has angered many national representatives who are now so confused that they do not know who to listen to and they are also concerned that their own national funding organisations are likely to withdraw support funds if things do not sort themselves out.
We understand that some national representatives are taking no chances and filling on both sets of forms, just to play safe.
There are two groups of people claiming to have governance control of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.
The two groups fighting to control ICSD are:
The original board members voted in by Congress; Jack Lamberton, Rebecca Adam, Grigor Grigoryan, Yakup Kihtir and Marijo Lusic.
The breakaway group led by Dimitri Rebrov and Gustavo Perazzolo include Mohammad Pargar, Mohamed Madoun, Iosif Stavrakakis and Pedro Squella.
The breakaway group was formed after Chan resigned as ICSD president and the board’s refusal to promote Perazzolo to President.
Our understanding is that the original board attempted to fire Rebrov from his role as CEO and it appears that in retaliation, the board were blocked from access to ICSD files and their official email addresses.
It has taken some time for the board to regroup with temporary email addresses, a Facebook page and a new website.
Contrary to the assertions by ICSD Chair of Technical Committee, Bogard that the summer games will be held in Caxias do Sol and an Extraordinary Congress is Switzerland, the ICSD board have announced on their website that the games are now in the control of CBDS and with Sports Ministry approval will be hosting the games in Rio de Janerio, using the 2016 Olympic facilities. They are also searching for an alternative venue/version for the Extraordinary Congress.
Since completing her English Channel swim yesterday Verity Green has been contacted by many to congratulate her and some have queried if she was the first Deaf woman to swim the channel. Green has got in touch with Two Big Ears to see if we could find out.
During our text conversation with Green she explained that another Deaf swimmer had planned to make the swim earlier in July but had postponed her event due to lack of training. They told Green that if she completed the swim then she would be the first Deaf British woman to complete the crossing.
When researching for our book Same Spirit Different Team, we came across much information about Deaf sports people and we were able to reassure Green that as far as records show, she is the first British Deaf woman to make a solo crossing of the English Channel.
The first Deaf woman to complete the swim, also happened to be the first ever woman to do so! Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003) was an American. She swam the English Channel in 1926 at the age of 20.
Before that, Ederle was the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay, aged 15 and she won three medals at the Paris Olympics.
According to pbs.org Ederle’s hearing was lost after contracting measles as a child and then in her own words the channel swim left her “Stone Deaf”. You can read more about Ederle at pbs.org and xxx
In July 2014 a team of Deaf Irish women became the first Deaf team to complete the Channel swim by taking turns to swim in relay. They completed the journey in 14 hours and 10 minutes. More info and here
Other successful English Channel crossings by Deaf swimmers:
July 2016 Andrew Rees is the first British Deaf man to complete the crossing solo. Info and at the BBC
August 2017 Wesley Nolan, the first Deaf Irish person to swim solo. Irish Times
It is possible that there are other Deaf swimmers who have completed the English Channel swim solo or as team – if you have this information please share below in the comments.
We will continue this feature on swimming SOON with an interview with English Channel swimmer Verity Green who is registered dual-sensory disabled as we ask her if she has considered competing in the Paralympics.
Verity Green, 40, from Catterick Garrison UK, has become the first British Deaf woman to complete the English Channel swim solo.
Her swim began around 05:30 this morning 2nd August and finished on the coast of France 12 hours and nine minutes later.
Due to poor phone signals, all her supporters had to wait a while to get final news when she said ‘Conditions were tough! So relieved to have finished and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the amazing fundraising! It really helped me in my swim!!’
Well-wishers and supporters have raised well over her target of £4,000 for her chosen charity Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
As a former swimmer representing Great Britain in Deaf competitions and achieving 3rd world ranking for her event she was told as a teenager that she would never be able to swim again after being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. Verity had to learn the basic of swimming after the disease had severely affected her balance and vision.
‘Thanks to my hearing dog Bow , my disability has become visible’
Her fundraising website is still open and accepting donations.
Verity’s swim comes 5 years and 16 days after Andrew Rees became the first Deaf man to complete the same feat. If records are correct and they will be verified later it would appear that Varity managed a faster swim being around 3 hours quicker than Rees.
After viewing our interview with former ICSD President Craig Crowley, the most senior Technical Director in the ICSD has come on record to give you information about some of the concerns raised in our interview with Crowley
This post replaces the original which we had to remove due to video tech issues. We apologise for the earlier trouble you may have expereinced in trying to download.
This interview was recorded on 30th July 2021. It is accessible partly in BSL and International Sign and supported with English subtitles.
Last week Gustavo Perozzolo, ICSD Interim President wrote to national members to request ‘calm and focus’ in response to ongoing concerns and criticisms. In reply, former ICSD President Craig Crowley has made a video reply to the letter to raise concerns about its content and the current situation of next year’s Summer Deaflympics.
Craig Crowley approached Two Big Ears and requested that we publish his concerns. This video interview is presented in BSL, International Sign and supported with English subtitles.
Ahead of today’s European Deaf Sport Organisation Congress, former General Secretary shared an open letter and vlog to explain the situation about his dismissal and concerns of poor leadership.
Today, Saturday 10 July 2021, at the European Deaf Sport Organisation (EDSO) online Congress, one of its national members, UK Deaf Sport will table a motion of no confidence in the EDSO Board. The reason for this relates to the unexplained reasons for the 2019 abrupt dismissal of Philip Gerrard, a Vice President of UK Deaf Sport who, at the time was the EDSO Secretary General – In 2018, he was overwhelmingly voted in by the EDSO membership on his popular manifesto to help EDSO modernise and reform.
Gerrard has asked Two Big Ears to publish his IS vlog here for the benefit of the whole European Deaf Community as a matter of public interest. The vlog will be uncomfortable viewing for members of the EDSO Board because its is a frank account of concerns:
VIDEO FROM P. GERRARD:
During his tenure, Gerrard kept his word to support EDSO by following up on his promises, he identified the following challenges facing the EDSO Board:
Lack of strategic thinking presented and reported on to member countries at meetings and in-between.
Lack of opportunities and encouragement for women to join the EDSO Board.
Lack of robust and transparent financial processes which led to the closure of the EDSO bank account.
After Gerrard was dismissed, UK Deaf Sport and other countries were expecting to see an improvement or changes made to the organisational issues that were raised. But since nothing has happened, the motion to make a vote of no confidence has been submitted.
Considering the amount of time that has passed since his dismissal, Gerrard has written an email and a vlog for the EDSO members to read to ensure that they fully understand the reasons for the vote of no confidence. Gerrard has also asked Two Big Ears to publish both the vlog and the messages here so that the grassroots membership in deaf sports clubs as well as the Deaf community in European nations have full access to what is going on.
As we publish this post, we understand that other nations have pledged their support to vote for this. In addition to explaining the reasons for the vote of no confidence, the motion also puts forwards recommendations that:
All EDSO members deliver a vote of no confidence and ask for an independent review into the reasons for the dismissal of Philip Gerrard as EDSO Secretary General and;
That the EDSO Board engage with its members to ensure that national representatives can fully access future EDSO meetings and events.
When we were approached by Philip Gerrard, we asked him why he wanted to go public. His explanation was straight to the point: “To give members the opportunity to seek reform with EDSO.”
Ahead of todays EDSO congress, UK Deaf Sport has sent in a message of support to Gerrard’s email and expressed their concerns “We are disappointed with the expereince our UK Deaf Sport International Relations ambassador has had, and look forward to seeing steps taken by EDSO to ensure greater commitment towards gender equity and good governance which is something we strongly believe in.”
UK Deaf Sport will be represented at the Congress by Gordon Hay, from the UKDS International Relations Group and Valerie Copenhagen, UKDS Executive Director. They will also table a second motion that EDSO meetings (online and face to face) must modernise and be delivered with captions in English alongside International Signs. Readers will ask “Why English?” In line with international protocol, English is the official language of communications for official EDSO business and this is stated in the EDSO constitution.