Having invited the world to the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Vancouver can look forward to again hosting athletes from across the globe when the Deaflympics come to town in five years.
On Friday (March 19), Craig Crowley, president of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, will pronounce Vancouver as the host city for the 2015 Winter Deaflympics.
The announcement will take place at 2 p.m. at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
For Kimberley Rizzi, executive director of the Montréal-based Canadian Deaf Sports Association, the news is “huge”.
“What is exciting is that Vancouver is going to be one of the rare cities that have hosted all three sets of Olympics, which is the hearing Olympics—which we just went through—the Paralympics, and now the Deaflympics,” Rizzi told the Straight in a phone interview. “Which is pretty rare, and huge for CDSA. It’s huge to be able to host the world and showcase our country.”
The only other city to achieve a similar three-peat is Salt Lake City, according to Rizzi. The Winter and Summer Deaflympics happen every four years, like the Olympics, she said, but they are in odd-numbered years.
Rizzi said the job of the CDSA is to facilitate programs for deaf people across the country.
When the CDSA heard that a group in Vancouver wanted to host the Deaflympics, the organization attended the 2009 Summer Deaflympics in Taipei and made a pitch to the international committee. In all, 72 countries voted unanimously to support Vancouver’s hosting of the Deaflympics, Rizzi said.
“So now, CDSA’s role in the 2015 Deaflympics in Vancouver will be the direct liaison between the host committee and the federal government,” she said. “So, we will help in the funding application for Sport Canada for funding. We will assist in the development of the host society. We are working closely to ensure that all deaf Canadians have a positive experience and really build on the fact that the deaf Olympics will be held in Canada, and of course there are spin-offs from all of that.”
First of all, there is the 2011 Winter Deaflympics, which take place in Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia. To qualify for that, Canada’s deaf curlers will head to Richmond later this month for the Canadian Deaf Curling Championships, running from March 28 to April 3.
“So, in Slovakia in 2011 we are sending approximately 41 athletes—a total team of 70,” Rizzi said. “Our goal for 2015 is to have 100 athletes, so we are really going to be pumping our programs up. We’re going to be formulating a similar program the COC [Canadian Olympic Committee] had, the Own the Podium.”
Regarding the parameters used to measure an athlete’s hearing, Rizzi said “there are all types of deafness and all types of hard of hearing athletes”.
“The simplest way to explain it is you have to have a deafness of 55 decibels or greater,” she said. “Each athlete gets an audiogram done. It’s sent into the international committee, and they assess it and they determine if they are eligible to compete.”
According to a press release relating to Friday’s announcement, the 2015 Deaflympics will “unite elite-calibre athletes who silently compete in 27 events” in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, ice hockey, and snowboarding at venues in Vancouver and Whistler.
The release says Crowley will be joined for the announcement by a Four Host First Nations representative, Deaflympians, government reps, and DJ Lampitt, the CEO of the 2015 Vancouver Deaflympics Organizing Committee.