What is the Deaflympics? The Deaflympics is a version of the Olympics for hearing impaired athletes.


The Olympics and Paralympics are sports festivals that take place once every four years. The Olympics are a sports festival for able-bodied people, while the Paralympics are a sports festival for people with disabilities. Did you notice that there is no hearing disability division in the Paralympics? In fact, there is a separate sporting event for the hearing impaired called the Deaflympics, which is held separately from the Paralympics.
Unfortunately, the Deaflympics and Paralympics are held at different times and are not televised in Japan. However, the athletes representing Japan are doing their best just like in the Olympics and Paralympics. I hope that you will become interested in the Deaflympics and support the athletes.

I would also like to know if the Deaflympics are televised outside of Japan. Please let us know.

What is the Deaflympics?

The Deaflympics, like the Olympics and Paralympics, is a sports festival held every four years. There are two types of Deaflympics: the summer Deaflympics and the winter Deaflympics. Both have a very long history, with the Summer Games starting in 1924 and the Winter Games in 1949. The Paralympic Games originated in 1948, which means that they have a longer history than the Paralympics. The origin of the name comes from the fact that deaf people are called Deaf, and Deaf is the English word for Deaf. Therefore, it is called the Deaflympics with Deaf + Olympics.

Why is Deafness separate from the Paralympics?

Originally, the Deaflympics started earlier than the Paralympics. The name Paralympics is derived from Paraplegia + Olympics, where Paraplegia is a condition of physical paralysis.
Originally, the Paralympics were for people in wheelchairs. Later, the Paralympic Games expanded to include other disabilities such as visual impairment. Until 1995, Paraplegia was a member of the International Paralympic Committee, but withdrew in order to pursue its own identity. So deaf people cannot compete in the Paralympics.
The Paralympics were also quite little known in Japan, but now they are held at the same time as the Olympics, so they have become quite well known. In addition to the Paralympics and Deaflympics, there is also the Special Olympics for people with intellectual disabilities.

Deaflympics Competitions

The Deaflympics are held in summer and winter. There are 20 events in the summer and 5 events in the winter as follows

Summer Games

  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Handball
  • Soccer
  • Judo
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Badminton
  • Table tennis
  • Swimming
  • Water polo
  • tennis
  • Karate
  • Bicycle
  • Bowling
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Shooting
  • Wrestling Freestyle
  • Wrestling Greco-Roman
  • Mountain Bike
  • Orienteering

Winter Competitions

  • Alpine Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross Country
  • Ice Hockey
  • Curling

What is Orienteering?

One of the summer events at the Deaflympics is orienteering. This is an event that you do not hear about in the Olympics or Paralympics. Orienteering is a competition in which participants use a map and compass to pass through points set up in mountains and other locations in a specified order, and compete in terms of speed. You may have an image of a friendly stroll through the mountains, but it is a hard competition like a route-less version of cross-country skiing where you have to run through the points.

Eligibility for Deaflympics

To qualify for the Deaflympics, participants must have a hearing of 55 dB or better without hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other assistive devices (bare ears). In addition, the athlete must be registered with the sports association of the Deaf in each country. In the case of Japan, there is the All Japan Federation of the Deaf Sports Committee. Since the Japanese standard for a certificate due to hearing impairment is 70dB at level 6, basically all people in Japan who have received a certificate due to hearing impairment can aim for the Deaflympics if they register. Of course, not everyone who registers can participate in the Deaflympics, as they need to become a representative! If the goal of able-bodied athletes is the Olympics, the dream of hearing-impaired athletes is the Deaflympics! By the way, hearing aids and cochlear implants cannot be used in the Deaflympics once they enter the competition venue. The key point is that they are not allowed to use hearing aids or cochlear implants while competing, but once they enter the venue. This is said to be for fairness.


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