Thursday, March 3, 2011

Future of Deaflympics in peril

From ATR. Pictured is the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei:

The future of the Deaflympic movement is in peril, according to the new CEO of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

In an exclusive interview with Around the Rings, Mark Dolley says “securing the future of the Deaflympics” is his top priority.

“I’m under no illusion as to the size of the task ahead.”

Earlier in February, the ICSD learned that the head organizer of the 2011 Winter Deaflympics in Vysoké Tatry, Slovakia had embezzled organizing committee funds and the games had to be canceled.

The 2013 Summer Deaflympics, scheduled to take place in Athens are also in a precarious situation due to the current Greek financial crisis.

As if that weren’t enough, the Vancouver 2015 organizing committee has folded.

“You’re only as good as your most recent competition if you’re an athlete, and its pretty much the same for an organizing body” Dolley says.

A criminal complaint was filed with Slovakian authorities and Dolley says there are no plans to schedule a replacement winter Deaflympics.

Contingency plans are being made in case Athens or Vancouver is unable to
stage the Deaflympics.

“I’m looking forward to get to the bottom of the situation once I get my feet under the desk” Dolley says.

“With Vancouver I’m very confident, given we’ve got four years and the logistical requirements and operational requirements of the winter Deaflympics is much smaller.

“Frankly I need more time to assess what’s going on before I can give any sort of definitive answer.”

Attracting more coverage and awareness of the Deaflympics will be another chief priority for Dolley, who officially starts work March 1. He will be based in London. The head office for the ICSD is in the U.S.

Additionally “there are some fairly serious issues at the top-end with the Deaflympics, as evidenced by failure of two of three of the ones that were slated.”

While the job is daunting, Dolley said he’s excited and receiving encouraging signs from the sporting world.

“It’s one area where there’s opportunity for significant change, for significant improvement.”