Deaflympics 2021 in Brazil – here’s what you need to know about the quadrennial event


The world’s best hearing-impaired athletes from around the world will descend on the main pavilion of the Festa da Uva for the opening ceremony of the 24th Deaflympics in the southern city of Caxias do Sol, Brazil, on Sunday.

As with the Olympics, the Deaflympics are held once every four years. It is a party and the most prestigious multi-sport event for deaf athletes only.

This year’s event from May 1-15 will feature 209 events across 17 sports. The Games were originally scheduled to take place in December last year but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

India sent its largest contingent for the Games this time, with 65 athletes competing in 11 disciplines, according to Sports Authority of India.

What is the context of the Deaflympics?

The Olympic Games are essentially an open event for athletes who qualify. The Paralympic Games are for athletes with various physical, visual and intellectual disabilities.

The Deaflympics, on the other hand, are intended only for deaf athletes. Therefore, unlike the Paralympic Games where each event has different classifications based on disabilities – for example, there were eight different men’s javelin throwing events and five different women’s javelin throwing events – the Deaflympics will only have only one winner per discipline.

While the Olympic and Paralympic Games are organized by the International Olympic Committee, the Deaflympics, called the International Games of Silence at the first edition in Paris 1924, are organized by the International Sports Committee for the Deaf – which is affiliated with the IOC . It was also called the World Games of the Deaf and the current name Deaflympics came into place in 2001.

However, the Deaflympics have a specific distinction from all other IOC mega events, in that the Games are “organized and run exclusively by members of the community they serve”, according to the Deaflympics website.

“Only Deaf people are eligible to serve on the Board of Directors and executive bodies of ICSD.”

Incidentally, the Deaflympics were the first multi-sport event organized for disabled athletes, the first edition having taken place in Paris in 1924. The Paralympics meanwhile were first held in 1960, in Rome.

Organizing committees are also required to provide a team of qualified interpreters who are assigned to each sports team.

Learn more about Deaflympics history here

Who are eligible?

According to the Deaflympics website, a “deaf” athlete is defined as someone with a “hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in the better ear (average 3-tone frequency of 500, 1000 and 2000 Hertz).

Hearing aids or any other implant device that enhances or supports hearing are not permitted to be used during competitions.

Due to hearing impairments, starting shots for events such as track and swim races would not be used. Instead, a specially designed starting lights sign is placed at the starting block for each competitor in track and field, with different lights signaling the calls “on your marks”, “set” and “go”.

Similarly, in swimming, strobe lights are placed at the starting block which help signal the start of a race.

In addition, the public is reminded to salute rather than applaud in order to support the athletes.

Was there a crossover between the Olympics and the Deaflympics?

Several athletes have excelled at the Deaflympics and also won Olympic medals.

South African swimmer Terrence Parkin, the most successful Deaflympian, has won 29 gold, 3 silver and one bronze in swimming events. He also won a bronze medal in cycling at the Deaflympics, a total of 34 medals in five editions.

He competed at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, winning a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke in Sydney.

Swimmer Jeffrey Float won 11 gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, becoming the first legally deaf American to win gold in the 4x200m freestyle team – which then set the world record.

Legendary Italian wrestler Ignazio Fabra was the first person to compete in the Olympics and the Deaflympics. In the latter, he won two gold, two silver and one bronze in three editions. At the Olympics, he won a silver medal in Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. He also competed in Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964, finishing fifth and fourth respectively. He then coached Giuseppe Bognanni, who won bronze at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Meanwhile, Indian golfer Diksha Dagar won silver at the 2017 Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey and went on to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

What is India’s record?

The upcoming edition will be the 14th time India has sent a team to compete in the Deaflympics, since first appearing at the Washington DC Games in 1965.

For Versatile Athlete Rajeev Bagga, Sound Was No Obstacle: The Story of the ‘Deaflympian of the Century’

India’s 46-member contingent returned from the 2017 edition with five medals – one gold, one silver and three bronze. Wrestler Virender Singh, competing in his fourth consecutive edition, won gold in the 74kg freestyle event, successfully defending his title from the 2013 edition. He also won gold in 2005 when of the Melbourne event and bronze in 2009.

Meanwhile, India’s most decorated Deaflympian is badminton player Rajeev Bagga. From the Christchurch Games in 1989 to Sofia 2013 – seven editions – he won 14 gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

A list of former Indian participants and medalists can be found on the All India Sports Council of the Deaf website.

Who is participating from India this time?

India’s record contingent includes athletes in track and field, badminton, judo, golf, karate, shooting, swimming, tennis, table tennis, taekwondo and wrestling.

List of Indian Deaflympics participants

NS name Discipline
1 Manikandan Kamaraj Athletics
2 balram Athletics
3 Suthan Rajendran Athletics
4 Sameeha Barvin Mujib Athletics
5 Priyanka Kumari Athletics
6 Abhinav Sharma Badminton
7 Rohit Bhaker Badminton
8 Hritik Anand Badminton
9 Mahesh Badminton
ten Jerlin Anika Jayaratchagan Badminton
11 Shreya Singla Badminton
12 Aaditya Yadav Badminton
13 Gauranshi Sharma Badminton
14 Yogesh Dagar Golf
15 Diksha Dagar Golf
16 Rakesh Singh Judo
17 Vishal Khajuria Judo
18 Sumit Soni Judo
19 Asif Khan Judo
20 Nirchara Judo
21 Sakshi Haridas Bansode Judo
22 Vaishnavi Bala More Judo
23 Rakhshinda Mehak Judo
24 Vikas Solanki Karate
25 Aditya Sijaria Karate
26 Dhanush Srikanth Shooting
27 Shourya Saini Shooting
28 Abhinav Deshwal Shooting
29 Shubham Vashist Shooting
30 Priyesha Sharadrao Deshmukh Shooting
31 Natasha Joshi Shooting
32 Pranjali Prashant Dhumal Shooting
33 Monika Verma Shooting
34 Abishek Kumar Shooting
35 Vedika Sharma Shooting
36 Tahir Rahimkhan Mullani Swim
37 Vaibhav Rajoria Swim
38 Aman Sharma Swim
39 Aditi Avinash Nilangekar Swim
40 Subiya Rahimkhan Mullani Swim
41 Sneha Ramu Swim
42 Swaran Das Table tennis
43 Srijit Mazumder Table tennis
44 Priom Chakraborti Table tennis
45 Ullas Naik Table tennis
46 Shiny Anthony Gomes Table tennis
47 rakhi Table tennis
48 Abhisha Banerjee Table tennis
49 Archana Pandey Table tennis
50 Abhinandan Goswami taekwondo
51 Nidhi Sulakhe taekwondo
52 Prithvi Sekhar Tennis
53 Dhananjay Dubey Tennis
54 Jafreen Shaik Tennis
55 Bhavani Kedia Tennis
56 Vijay Kumar wrestling
57 Ajay Kumar wrestling
58 Krishan Kumar Yadav wrestling
59 virender wrestling
60 Friend wrestling
61 Sumit Dahiya wrestling
62 Shubham Babaso Patil wrestling
63 Raj Verma wrestling
64 Ankit wrestling
65 Kuldeep Sharma wrestling
As provided by Sports Authority of India

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