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Australia scores sports coup with 2005 Deaflympics.



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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Senator The Hon Rod Kemp Federal Minister for the Arts and Sport The Hon Justin Madden MLC Victorian Minister for Commonwealth

Games, Sport and Recreation

AUSTRALIA SCORES SPORTS COUP WITH 2005 DEAFLYMPICS

The world's top deaf sportspeople are coming to Victoria in January 2005 for their equivalent of the Olympics, the Federal and Victorian Governments jointly announced today.

Around 4500 athletes and officials from more than 90 countries plus thousands of supporters are expected at the Games.

The Federal Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, said holding the Games in Australia was an opportunity to contribute to increased understanding and interest in deafness.

'It will also give hearing-impaired athletes the chance to compete in an elite international competition,' Senator Kemp said.

'This is a tremendous honour for Victoria to have secured the right to host the 20th Summer Deaflympics because the event has been held outside Europe or the US only once since 1924,' Mr Madden said.

'As well as turning the world sporting spotlight on us, the Deaflympics will be a fantastic boost for Melbourne and regional Victoria, where a number of sports will be staged.'

Ballarat will host some of the 15 team and individual sports ranging from basketball, badminton and athletics to soccer, road cycling, table tennis and swimming.

'The event will provide an opportunity for deaf and hearing impaired people - comprising one in five Australians - to showcase their sporting talents to the world,' said Mr Madden.

Both the Victorian and Federal Governments have committed $4 million each to support the staging of the 2005 Deaflympics from 6 to 16 January 2005.

'The Federal Government has already committed an additional $150 000 through the Australian Sports Commission on top of the $4 million announced today,' Senator Kemp said.

'All Australians should have the opportunity to reach their sporting potential - whatever challenges life presents.

'This funding is a demonstration of the Commonwealth's continuing strong commitment to athletes with a disability,' he said.

 

Mr Madden said the Victorian backing was through the State Government's Community Support Fund.

'On top of the economic lift and creation of jobs plus development prospects for athletes and officials, hosting the Deaflympics underscores the commitment of the Victorian Government to create more opportunities in our community to include people of varying abilities.

Up to 31 full-time staff are expected to be employed in the run-up to the Deaflympics,' he said.

The international governing body for deaf sports - CISS - today applauded the Victorian and Federal Governments for their support.

'This is the number one international event for all deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the world. I know Victoria and Australia will stage this event with professionalism and its success will prove a benchmark for future Games,' said Melbourne-based president of CISS, John Lovett.

'I have every faith in the Games and Victoria's world-class reputation for staging major events.'

More than 40 athletes represented Australia last year at the 19th Summer Deaflympics in Rome. Australian deaf athletes hold current world deaf records in various sports, notably swimming.

Sport in Australia for the adult deaf started with cricket in 1880 and led to 'deaf carnivals' from 1911 before the first Australian Deaf Games were held in the mid-1960s.

MELBOURNE 31 October 2002

Media contact: Richard Wise, Minister Kemp's office, 02 6277 7350 or 0438 204 554 Matt Phelan, Minister Madden's office, 03 9651 5799 or 0418 374 496