Invisible Olympic Games

Promoting Deaflympics Games

Why are deaf people not in the Paralympics?

The Invisible Olympic Games is a project set up by DEAFS (Deaf English Athletics Federation Staffordshire) to inform people about the history of the Deaflympics. 

Promoting Deaflympic Games

Since 2012 when London was home to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, there have been regular questions being asked about deaf athletes: 

• Where were deaf athletes in the Paralympic Games? 

• Why didn’t we see many deaf athletes in the Games? 

• Where deaf athletes even part of the Games? 

• Why didn’t we see deaf athletes in the Paralympic Games? 

• Did deaf athletes take part in the Olympics or Paralympics? 

• Did deaf athletes win any medals in the Olympic or Paralympic Games? 

So many questions were being asked about deaf athletes because for many people, they did not see deaf athletes in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

This is because Deaf sports people are not part of the Paralympic Games and so deaf sports they are rarely heard of by those who are not deaf. This means that deaf sporting events are invisible to the general public. Also, deaf sports people are the least promoted in the public media and receive less funding from general sponsorship and many government bodies due to not being part of the Paralympic Games. The Invisible Olympic Games aims to address these disadvantages and to raise awareness, hopefully in the long term the project will enable some degree of equality of opportunities to be bestowed on deaf sports and on deaf sports people. Invisible Olympic Games project wants to collect as much as possible these valuable heritage resources from who have participated in previous Deaflympic Games while the opportunity is still here. 

Why Deaf people are not in the Paralympics

According to the Deaflympics, “Among the Deaf community there is overwhelming support for separate Games. Deaf people do not consider themselves disabled, particularly in physical ability. Rather, we consider ourselves to be part of a cultural and linguistic minority. The Deaf athlete is physically able-bodied and able to compete without significant restrictions, with the exception of communication barriers. In team sports and some individual events, hearing loss can be limiting. 

However, these restrictions disappear in the Deaflympic Games. The Deaflympic sports and their rules are identical to those of able-bodied (Olympic Games) athletes. 

There are no special sports, and the only adaptations are to make auditory cues visible. 

For example, Deaflympic Games use strobe lights for starting signals. Among that athletes allowed to compete in the Deaf Games there are no classifications or restrictions except for the requirement that each have a hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in the better ear.” 

This explains why Deaf people are not in the Paralympics. In summary, deaf athletes are not seen as disabled. Only hearing problems and when accessible facilities such as flashing lights are in place, deaf people are able to compete in any competitions. Deaf people need sign language communication too during events to make sure communication goes smoothly. 

Like the Olympic Games saying, “It is not the winning that matters, but the taking part that counts” – This is important. Should deaf athletes take part with those who are hearing in the Olympic or Paralympic Games, there would be communication issues as Olympic and Paralympic athletes are unlikely to do sign language that breaks down the communication difficulties that are not present in Deaflympic Games.

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