Utah Selected to Host 2007 Winter Deaflympics

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. announced Utah has been chosen as the site of the 2007 Deaflympic Winter Games. The athletic and cultural events will draw more than 400 deaf athletes and 4,000 fans from at least 24 countries to Salt Lake City and Park City.

"It is a privilege for us to welcome these dedicated athletes to Utah's world-class winter sports venues," said Gov. Huntsman. "The 2007 Deaflympics is an opportunity for Utahns to help further the Olympic tradition of educating youth through sports and promoting international friendship, peace and progress."

The Deaflympics, which is under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, began in Paris in 1924 and is the second oldest multi-sport and cultural event in the world. The deaf and hard-of-hearing have their own international sports competition because they are able-bodied under Olympic rules and cannot participate in the Paralympics. At the same time, communication barriers like sound-based starting devices and verbal officiating keep many deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes from participating in the Olympics. In the Deaflympics, rules and procedures are similar to those in Olympic competitions except flashing lights and hand signals or flags are used instead of starting guns or whistles. 

"We are delighted to be holding the 2007 Deaflympics at the home of the widely acclaimed 2002 Winter Olympics," said Donalda Ammons, president of Deaflympics. "The Deaflympics are immensely important. For deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes, these games are the one place where they compete without communication obstacles, where there is no limit on what they can accomplish."

Co-Chairs of the 2007 Deaflympics Honorary Advisory Board are Dr. I. King Jordan, president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and James Lee Sorenson, CEO of Sorenson Media. Dr. I. King Jordan made history in 1988 as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, the world's only educational institution designed specifically for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. James Lee Sorenson is a nationally recognized advocate for America's 28 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people; Sorenson Media is the developer of a free, national video relay service for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

The official Deaflympic torch arrives on Feb. 1, 2007 and will re-light the flame at Salt Lake City's 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park, setting the stage for ten days of competition, cultural events, and efforts to build a legacy for future Deaflympians. The 16th winter games will include five individual and team events: alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, ice hockey, and curling. Snowboarding and alpine skiing will take place at Park City Mountain Resort and Nordic skiing will be at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center.

Along with Ammons, Jordan and Sorenson, other leaders attending the governor's announcement include Dwight Benedict, chair of the 2007 Deaflympics Organizing Committee, and Tiffany Granfors, executive director of Deaflympics.

By Secretariat