Nations Receive Invites to the 24th Summer Deaflympics.

National Deaf Sports federations who have been invited to participate will now decide whether or not to send athletes and teams to the next Summer Deaflympics in Brazil.

Immediately after the ICSD Extraordinary Congress in Switzerland last week, The ICSD officially invited all its member nations to take part in the 24th Summer Deaflympics from 1-15 May 2022 in Caxias do Sul, Brazil.

There are 21 sports currently listed on the programme and ICSD President Gustavo Perazzolo writes ‘We look forward to having you come down..’ Perazzolo himself is a former Brazilian Deaflympian in volleyball and cycling.

Official logo 24th Summer Deaflympics

There is an official website for the games https://www.deaflympics2021.com

Questions to be asked

There are questions now facing National Deaf Sports Federations as they decide whether or not to participate in this event. Australia has already had to withdraw due to its government regulations on international travel which are already extended into 2022.

Travel restrictions will make it very expensive if athletes and their officials have to isolate at their own expense on return to their home countries. The outbreak of the new Omicron variant is set to have a severe impact on travel that could last well into 2022.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul does not have its own international airport and athletes will have to use internal flights to reach the local airport further increasing the risk of contamination by the virus and potentially the more transmittable Omicron.

Brazil currently has the second highest number of national recorded deaths due to Covid-19 and questions are being asked if the true number of deaths and cases are being recorded, the country currently at 615,570 deaths and 22.1 million cases nationally. President Jair Bolsonaro has told Brazilians to ‘stop whining‘ and has continued to downplay the virus. Brazil’s Supreme Court has opened an inquiry into claims made by Bolsonaro that Covid-19 vaccines may increase the chance of contracting Aids. One positive note to make in all of this is that the host state has one of the lowest number of deaths and cases so far in Brazil.

The official games website has a page showing some official Travel Insurance available, but neither that nor health insurance will give immunity to a virus – only a vaccine may do that.

For months now, national federation representatives have been asking the Deaflympic organisers to show that they are making arrangements to protect athletes from the virus as well as ensuring that the event will also have stringent Anti-doping checks and Audiogram checks in place.

Concerns about anti-doping and audiogram checks are long-standing as the CEO of ICSD, Dmitry Rebrov is Russian and has been found guilty by his country’s legal system of falsifying audiograms and ICSD have not followed the IOC and IPC in restricting how Russia can compete due to RUSADAs poor history of doping scandals. Last month’s World Short Course Swimming Championships had no in-competition anti-doping tests in place. When ICSD President Perazzolo was questioned about the lack of anti-doping tests he blamed the Polish organising committee and did not take responsibility for ICSD’s role in event planning oversight.

In recent weeks, CSD Head of Technical Commission, Martin Bogard has made presentations to his colleagues in the commission and to delegates at the Extraordinary Congress last week. We understand from comments being made by congress delegates that some of the sports sites may not be up to international standards which, if the claims are true, would make it difficult to validate any new Deaflympic Records set in the sports affected.

The IOC has continued to with hold its funding to ICSD in the wake of embezzlement scandals involving a former ICSD President and the umbrella organisation did not sanction the 2019 Winter Deaflympics and it remains to be seen what they will do for Caxias do Sul.

Key Points from the ICSD Extraordinary Congress in Lausanne Switzerland.

The information we have received has come from a variety of delegate sources and cross referencing between different national delegates gives us confidence that what we are sharing with you has happened this weekend in Lausanne.

Hotel Alpha Palmiers, Lausanne, Switzerland. venue of the ICSD Extraordinary Congress

Just as Congress weekend was about to get underway the world was alerted to the new highly transmissible variant of Covid-19 from the South African region. Because of this, Swiss border control placed a 10-day quarantine on any visitors from Belgium, Southern African region nations and elsewhere that deemed risky.

SUNDAY 28th November, Lausanne, DAY 1. 

  • ICSD has116 member countries registered but approx. 55 are fully paid up and allowed to vote.
  • After 2 hours of debate, Congress finally agreed to accept Kasper Bergmann as Congress Moderator.
  • A motion to include a vote for DIHF (International Deaf Ice-Hockey) as an Associate member did not get approval.
  • A final roll call confirmed the attendance to 53 delegates (3 or 4 accessing remotely), so the voting majority is set at 27 votes. (Exact numbers will be confirmed by ICSD minutes)
  • Congress voted to change the right to amend the agenda at any time during Congress
  • Financial Audits of Accounts for 2013-2019 were approved
  • The remainder of the day was spent on the Deaf Sport Reform debate. In summary, delegates voted in favour of:
  • Associate members gaining fundamental voting rights, equal as national members.
  • ICSD Board would be reduced or enlarged in size by including an athlete representative.
  • Regional Confederation representatives to get one vote each on the ICSD board

MONDAY  29th November, Lausanne, DAY 2. 

The day’s debates were on the current state of ICSD governance and the hosting of the 2022 Summer Deaflympics.

  • Over the past two years, ICSD members and followers of Deaf sport have been confused over who is leading the ICSD, is it EB5 – the elected Board members or the RCs who broke away with ICSD Exec Officer Dmitry Rebrov.
  • Both groups (EB5 and RCs) were given the opportunity to make statements to the floor and then a vote was taken that accept the Extraordinary Congress as legal.
  • After further afternoon discussions on the legitimacy of the ICSD leadership, Congress voted to approve the establishment of an Investigation task force to look into the facts of the whole situation since 2019 and report its findings to the next Congress.
  • It has been confirmed that Caxias is now the preferred host for the Summer Deaflympics 2022, this decision was made by the Brazil Deaf Sports Federation and accepted by Congress.
  • There appear to be plans in place for Summer Deaflympics 2025 in Japan and Winter Deaflympics 2027 in Korea, Taiwan also plans to host the 2027 Youth Games.
  • The final act was the election of an Board to work with limited powers to oversee the Deaflympics, organise Congress and have oversight of the Investigation task force until 2022 when Congress is usually held just before the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Deaflympics in Caxias do Sul, Brazil 1-14th May:
  • President – Gustavo Perazzolo
  • Vice President World Sport – Yutaka Osugi
  • Vice President Youth – David Lanesman
  • Members at Large – Yakup Khitir, Kristian Lantto, Adam Kosa and Alexandra Polivanchuk

President of German Deaf Sports Association Steps Down

DGSV have announced the resignation of their President Josef Willmerdinger.

DGSV announced on 24.11.2021 that they have, with ‘deep regret‘, accepted the resignation of their President Josef Willmerdinger for health reasons.

Josef Willmerdinger (c. gsc-frankenthal.de)

He has been highly praised for his ‘sovereign manner’ in leadership with his ‘great commitment to deaf sport and international events’. Highly respected in the association by its volunteers and the numerous sports agencies in Germany.

We will miss him very much’

DSGV plan to hold an extraordinary association meeting in the first quarter of 2022, to find a temporary President and the current vacancy of the Vice President for Sports Development.

Willmerdinger previously served as ICSD Vice President World Sports and competed in the Deaflympics football competitions of Bucharest 1977 and Koln 1981.

Special Video Report ‘ICSD Leadership and Deaflympics’

Yesterday H3 World TV released a video report to try and explain why ICSD leadership is split into to camps.

Video is shared here with expressed permission from H3.

ICSD Members Hope for Integrity at Extraordinary Congress

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.

Hotel Alpha Palmiers, Lausanne, Switzerland. venue of the ICSD Extraordinary Congress at the end of November 2021

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?

ICSD Chair of Technical Commission Sets the Record Straight

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.

Former ICSD President Responds to Interim Presidents Letter

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.

Fear about the decline of the Deaflympics.

The UK online TV programme company BSL Zone recently released a documentary explaining concerns about the future of the Deaflympic Games.

Deaflympics: Running Out of Time? is a 28 minute in-depth look at how the Deaflympics Games started and what may be in store for the future.

“Presenter Aimee Campbell-Nottage looks at the history of the Deaflympic Games, which started in 1924 and continues to pit the best Deaf sportspeople from across the world against each other.  Aimee also looks at how the Deaflympics celebrates Deaf culture and brings people from across the world together in a celebration of sport.  But, what about the future of the Deaflympics?  Is it really Running Out Of Time?  Directed and edited by Sebastian Cunliffe, this programme was produced for BSLBT by ITV SignPost.” (BSL Zone website)

It features former ICSD President Craig Crowley, current ICSD Vice President Gustavo Perazzolo and former EDSO President Isabelle Malaurie.

The initial ideas for the documentary came from researchers reading the book Same Spirit Different Team – The Politicisation of the Deaflympics by Stuart Harrison who also features as the programme’s consultant.

Watch the film here.

The BSL Zone website has a great page to find several more of their documentaries about Deaf sport and its inspiring organisations, athletes and personalities.

Australia Keeps its Borders Closed

The Australian Federal government plans to keep its international borders closed until mid-2022, impacting on athletes participating in the postponed Deaflympic Games.

Phil Harper, GM of Deaf Sports Australia has written an open letter to all national Deaf sports organisations and members of the ICSD to share their decision about attending the forthcoming Summer Deaflympic Games that ICSD hopes will be held in Brazil next year.

Phil Harper PhD, GM Deaf Sports Australia picture: Deaf Sports Australia.

After considerable deliberation with their federal government, Sports Australia and Sport Integrity Australia, Harper and his colleagues have made the decision not to send athletes to the games due to the remaining uncertainties of the Covid pandemic.

The main issue concerning Deaf athletes is that Australia plans to keep its borders closed until sometime in mid-2022 and travellers returning have to quarantine for 2 weeks at the own expense on their return.

As with other nations, the Australian government does not support it Deaflympic athletes financially as its does for Paralympians therefore Deaf athletes continue to be considered unworthy of their support and would not be able to afford the personal costs of competing in Brazil and then paying out for the 2-week quarantining on their return.

Harper shared the frustrations of many in the global Deaflympic community: “This decision is made with extreme difficulty knowing the impact on our athletes, coaches, managers and families who see this (Deaflympics) as a pinnacle international event in their sport lives, however, the risks are too great and we would not be supported by our Federal Government to attend.’

The Summer Deaflympics were originally planned for December 2021 and then ICSD took direction from the organising committee in Brazil to postpone until May 2022.

The Deaflympic Games are the second oldest global multi-sport event after the Olympics, it supersedes the Paralympics by 36 years when it held its first event the International Silent Games in Paris 1924.

Will the IOC Sanctions on Russia affect the Deaflympics ?

The IOC Executive Board has laid down special rules for International Sports Federations to follow when deciding whether or not any Russian athlete can compete in their sport during the Rio Olympics. But what does this mean for the Deaflympics in 2017 – should the ICSD follow the same ruling as the IOC and IPC ? If so, does the doping system in place within the ICSD stand up to scrutiny – can it cope with such conditions ?

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First and foremost, the IOC has granted the ICSD membership into the Olympic Movement and therefore it should follow the decisions of the IOC Executive Board and apply the same sanctions to the Summer Deaflympics in 2017. If it cannot do this, then the ICSD must be held in contempt of a fundamental rule of the Olympic Charter to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sport.

It must apply these sanctions to the Deaflympics of 2017, because it is likely that the IOC sanctions will remain in place until the 2018 Winter Olympics at least.

The most compelling reason for applying IOC conditions on Russia is because their Deaflympic athletes are state-sponsored and thus by association are placed under suspicion to the same degree as their compatriots in the Olympic and Paralympic camps where some Deaflympic athletes share the same training facilities and coaches.

After deliberating, the IOC EB decided that it “will not accept any entry of any Russian athlete into the Olympic games in Rio 2016 unless the athlete can meet the conditions set out below.” (Decision of the IOC Executive Board)

2. Entry will be accepted by the IOC only if an athlete is able to provide evidence to the full satisfaction of his or her International Federation (IF) in relation to the following criteria:

• The IFs*, when establishing their pool of eligible Russian athletes, to apply the World Anti-Doping Code and other principles agreed by the Olympic Summit (21 June 2016).

• The absence of a positive national anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IFs. 

• The IFs should carry out an individual analysis of each athlete’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of the athlete’s sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field.  

• The IFs to examine the information contained in the IP Report, and for such purpose seek from WADA the names of athletes and National Federations (NFs) implicated. Nobody implicated, be it an athlete, an official, or an NF, may be accepted for entry or accreditation for the Olympic Games.

• The IFs will also have to apply their respective rules in relation to the sanctioning of entire NFs. 

It is going to be extremely difficult for the ICSD to apply the four criteria in condition 1. This is because very few Deaflympic athletes are subjected to out-of-competition testing. The lack of political support from national governments to apply equal status on all IOC, IPC and ICSD athletes means that there are no funds available within International Federations to subject Deaflympic athletes to testing.

But this cannot be a reason for the ICSD to claim that it cannot abide by the IOC Executive Board ruling because the second criteria above states that ‘The absence of a positive anti-doping test cannot be considered sufficient by the IF’ in other words, if Russian athletes have never been tested, then they cannot prove that they are clean because they are under suspicion as state-sponsored athletes.

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3. The ROC is not allowed to enter any athlete for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 who has ever been sanctioned for doping, even if he or she has served the sanction. 

Condition 3 can be applied, without appeal, all Russian Deaflympic athletes who have ever been sanctioned for doping should not be allowed to compete in the Summer Deaflympics, Samsun 2017. Furthermore, the ICSD should put in place measures to ensure that Russian athletes cannot bypass this ruling by trying to compete under a different name, this is something that can quite easily be done as we cannot trust the Russian Deaflympic officials not to do this as they have already been found guilty, by Russian courts of manipulating audiograms.

4. The IOC will accept an entry by the ROC only if the athlete’s IF is satisfied that the evidence provided meets conditions 2 and 3 above and if it is upheld by an expert from the CAS list of arbitrators appointed by an ICAS Member, independent from any sports organisation involved in the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 

The problem with condition 4 is that whilst Deaflympic sports compete under the rules and adaptations approved by their respective IF’s, there are International Deaf Sport Organisations who fall very well short of running a tight ship when it comes to following IF rules or managing competitions to IF standards or even knowing what ICAS is.

5. The entry of any Russian athlete ultimately accepted by the IOC will be subject to a rigorous additional out-of-competition testing programme in coordination with the relevant IF and WADA. Any non-availability for this programme will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the accreditation by the IOC. 

ICSD cannot afford out-of-competition testing, so it will have to play safe and not allow Russian athletes to compete. Unless of course the Russian state will provide the funds to ICSD to enable it to appoint non-Russian WADA officials to test its athletes.

To close, I put this challenge to the ICSD President Rukhledev:

Sir, you were appointed by the ICSD membership to ensure equality and integrity for Deaflympic sport within the Olympic Movement, I put it to you, that you should seek financial support from the Russian state to fully fund a full, global, in-and out of competition anti-doping programme of the ICSD indefinitely to be carried out by non-Russian laboratories. This act of support to the Deaflympic Movement might go some way to demonstrate to the world that you and your country take anti-doping seriously.

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