Honorary President of UK Deaf Sport, Craig Crowley writes open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, following success of Deaflympics GB Team at 2017 Summer Deaflympic Games in Samsun, Turkey.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you in my capacity as Honorary President of UK Deaf Sport regarding your upcoming meeting with Olympians and Paralympians.
As champions of UK sport, we are pleased to know you will be meeting with our Olympic and Paralympic teams. But we were disappointed to learn you have not extended the invitation to our Deaflympians.
The Deaflympics are important as the Paralympics does not have any categories of competition for athletes whose only disability is deafness. Established in 1924 as the first international sporting event for athletes with a disability, it has been an International Olympic Committee sanctioned event since 1955. It is the longest running multi-sport event excluding the Olympics. I had such a privilege of having served as its International President in 2009 until 2013, the first Briton to do so.
At this year’s event at Samsun Deaflympics, the GB team was awarded nine medals. Our athletes achieved this on top of having to raise the funding themselves; UK Sport stopped funding them in 2008, even though each needs just £2,050 to attend the games – a total cost of £175,000. That amounts to 0.05 per cent of the funding for Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
For example, the men’s and women’s football teams were faced with raising £125,000. They were only saved by former footballer and pundit Gary Neville, who paid the team’s £20,000 deposit in late October. That finally spurred the FA into action, which subsequently pledged £40,000.
Given the uneven playing field for deaf athletes, the low participation rate in sport of people who are deaf (10 per cent compared to 40 per cent of people without a disability), and the achievements of the GB team this year, recognising them alongside Olympians and Paralympians by extending your invitation will send a positive message about the Government’s commitment to DeaflympicsGB and deaf sport.
I look forward to your response, and to assisting your office with the arrangements.
Craig Crowley MBE FRSA
Honorary President, UK Deaf Sport
Former ICSD President 2009-2013