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Taiwan to Host Deaflympics

Aug 10, 2009, 6:38 AM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh in Taipei

As many as 3985 athletes from 81 countries have already been confirmed to enter to compete in 20 sport events to be hosted by Taiwan later this year.

The international sporting event will take place from September 5th to 15th 2009.

Some 2801 people are said to have signed up as volunteers, and are currently going through training at Taipei Municipal University of Education and National Taipei University of Education.

Plans are in the works to also recruit 50 international volunteers to help out with the competition.

The Deaflympics started in 1924 and is the fastest growing multiple sports event in the world. It is a place where deaf people come together and celebrate their differences and compete for gold on an equal playing field against other deaf athletes.

In 2009 more than 3000 athletes from over 65 countries will compete. The Deaflympics comes under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee IOC but are run by Deaf people for the Deaf.

The first World Games for the Deaf had under 200 contestants from fewer than ten countries. Modern Deaflympics events feature thousands of deaf and hard of hearing athletes from multiple countries.

President Ma Ying-jeou said that hosting the Deaflympics will not only thrust Taipei onto the international stage and provide an excellent opportunity to introduce Taiwan to the world, but increase international community's understanding of the country. "I hope that next year with the Kaohsiung City hosting the 2009 World Games in July and Taipei City hosting the Deaflympics in Taipei in September, Taiwan will once again be on the international stage and let the world know that Taiwan will never be absent from major international sporting events," Ma said at an event to mark the beginning of the one-year countdown to the 21st Deaflympics.

The international sports event for people who are hearing impaired will be held in Taipei from September 5-15, 2009.

"Through the Deaflympics, we hope everyone can get to see the modern and rich culture of Taipei City," Ma added.

To highlight the significance of the event, the president began his speech using sign language to say "I am Ma Ying-jeou, and I'll take part in the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics." He received loud applause from the audience.

Named host city for the 21st Summer Deaflympics in 2003, Taipei is the first city in Asia to host the Deaflympics games, marking a historic milestone for the hosting of international sporting events in Taiwan.

Noting that the theme of Deaflympics is "Equality through sports," Ma said athletes should have the spirit to "fight to the end and never give up" just like Taiwanese Taekwondo Olympian Su Li-wen, who fought to the last minute and nearly won a bronze medal despite painful and crippling injuries.

Su, along with two Taiwanese Olympic bronze medalists, Chen Wei-ling and Lu Ying chi, also attended the countdown event to call on the general public to take part in the 2009 Deaflympics.

International film stars Jackie Chan and noted actress Lin Ching-hsia, were also at the activity.

Action star, Chan, told the audience that he has one deaf ear after falling down from a tree while shooting a movie in Yugoslavia in 1987. But he has overcome the inconvenience of losing hearing in one ear.

"Never give up and you will be the winner," he said.

After singing the theme song of the 2009 Deaflympics "Power in Me," Ma, Chan and other participants at the event together activated a 365-day-countdown clock and wished for a smooth and successful games.

Around 4,000 athletes from 80 countries are expected to take part in the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics. They will compete in 20 sporting categories.

The Deaflympics dates back to 1924 when the first Summer Deaflympics were held in Paris, France. In 1995 the Games received official recognition by the International Olympic Committee. Today, 96 national deaf sports federations are members of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

The Deaflympics games are more than simply athletics and sports. They provide an arena for Deaf people to meet, communicate, network and socialise with other Deaf people. This social interaction is seen as a vital part of the games.