ICSD Under pressure to take action against the invasion of Ukraine.

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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.

Gustavo Perazzolo, ICSD, under pressure to ban Russia and Belarus from international competitions.

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)

Logo of the Ukraine Deaf Sport Federation

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 info@albertadeafsports.ca

How will ICSD now follow the IPC and IOC decision making?

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.

ICSD Blame Poland Organising Committee for Doping Omission

Last night, ICSD Interim President pointed the finger of blame at the Polish Organising Committee for lack of anti-doping tests at Swimming World Championships.

Yesterday we reported on the concerns from Christof Niklaus, a technical representative at the 1st World Deaf Short Course Swimming Championships that there are no arrangements in place to test swimmers to ensure there are no doping violations.

WADA have been made aware of the situation and the concerns that ICSD and Russia may have colluded to avoid the testing.

At last nights technical meeting, Christof asked Gustavo, the ICSD Interim President if he could explain why there was no anti-doping at the championships to which he replied to email the ICSD office.

Christof Niklaus asked ICSD to explain why there have been no anti-doping test in place. (photo by Christof Niklaus)

Christof repeated his question “because he is the ICSD representative at these championships and therefore should answer my question.

In his second reply, Gustavo blamed the Poland Organising Committee for not organising anti-doping tests.

Christof considers Gustavo’s reply to show that he is “A very poor president, not fit for office.”

We understand that all Deaf World Championship organising committees are obliged to follow all regulations for hosting sports events if they wish to be sanctioned by the ICSD. In the process, ICSD should have appointed its Technical Director of swimming to work closely with the Organising Committee to ensure that arrangements were in place to meet WADA regulations. Therefore ICSD cannot deflect the blame on the Organising Committee, it must also accept that it is also responsible and if necessary withdrawing its stamp of approval to a non-compliant event.

The ICSD Chief Executive Dmitry Rebrov continues to hold the office of Secretary General of the All-Russian Sports Federation of Deaf Sport. He would also be responsible, on behalf of the ICSD Board, for overseeing the work of the Technical Commission to ensure that the WADA code of practice is implemented. This blatant conflict of interest does nothing to safeguard the protection of clean athletes especially when Rebrov has also been found guilty in a Russian court of falsifying audiograms.

After Valery Rukhledev was removed from office, the ICSD Board attempted to deal with the misdemeanours and subordination of Rebrov which would have had a part to play in the leadership split that we now have in the organisation.

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.