The Deaflympics is an international multi-sport event, organized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD – International Committee of Sports for the Deaf). The first edition, held in Paris in 1924, was also the first sporting event for people with special needs.
The Summer Deaflympics takes place every 4 years and is the oldest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.
The Deaflympics are also known as Deaflympiad.
In the past, they were called World Games for the Deaf, and International Games for the Deaf.
To qualify for the games, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 db in their "better ear". Hearing aids, cochlear implants and the like are not allowed to be used in competition, to place all athletes on the same level.
About the Logo
The first games, known as the International Silent Games, were held in 1924 in Paris with athletes from nine (9) European nations participating.
The first Winter Games, held in Seefeld, Austria, in 1949, included 33 athletes from 5 nations.
Twenty three (23) Summer Games, have been held consistently at 4-year intervals since the initial Paris games. The only exceptions were the cancellation of 1943 and 1947 Games because of World War II.
Today, the number of national federations in the ICSD membership has reached 116, a big difference from the original 9 countries almost 100 years ago! Among recent newcomers enjoying the benefits of this worldwide network of sports and social inclusion include geographically disparate countries such as Lebanon, Paraguay and Mozambique.
The games were the brainchild of Eugène Rubens-Alcais, himself deaf and President of the French Deaf Sports Federation.
At a time when societies everywhere viewed deaf people as intellectually inferior, linguistically impoverished and often treated as outcasts, Monsieur Rubens-Alcais envisioned the international sports event as the best answer to prove that the deaf were more than what they were viewed.
Antoine Dresse, a young deaf Belgian, was instrumental in helping him accomplish his dream.
The traditions created by the founders were carried out and strengthened over the years by men and women who shared the passion for sports competition and for the establishment of a sense of identity within the world-wide deaf community. The members of this exclusive group of outstanding leaders share a background of lifelong commitment and leadership in their national as well as international deaf sports organizations.
German deaf handball players using sign language in a time-out
Unlike the athletes in other IOC-sanctioned events (the Olympics, the Paralympics, and the Special Olympics), athletes cannot be guided by sounds (such as starting pistols, bullhorn commands or referee whistles).
The Deaflympics are further distinguished from all other IOC-sanctioned games by the fact that they are organized and run exclusively by members of the community they serve. Only deaf people are eligible to serve on the ICSD board and executive bodies.
The Games allowed Deaf people to compete in sports internationally. At the same time, it allowed young Deaf people from all over the world to meet, to learn from each other, and to experience a situation in which all are equal.
Deaf athletes at cycling event at 'Silent Games' in Paris 1924
Today (1 April 2022), the Deaflympics Torch for the 2021 Deaflympics in Caxias do Sul, Brazil in Paris.
Deaflympics: Running Out Of Time?
BSLZone, UK: BSL and English subtitles, 27m 49s
A look at how the Deaflympics started and what may be in store for its 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.