Athletes from 23 countries around the globe will be competing at the 16th Winter Deaflympics for deaf and hearing impaired athletes in Salt Lake City, Utah, the United States.
The athletes will compete in downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice hockey and curling February 1 to 10, 2007.
Among multi-sports events the 10 days of Deaflympic games are second only to the Olympic games in age. The Deaflympics are among the fastest growing sports events, as well. The first games for deaf and hearing impaired athletes were held in Paris in 1924 with 145 participants from nine European countries.
To qualify for the Deaflympics the athletes must have a minimum hearing loss of 55 dB on the better ear. No hearing aids are permitted during competition.
Hearing impaired athletes may not compete in the Paralympic games for people with disabilities because a hearing loss does not affect their performance in the same way as other disabilities. Yet, separate games for hearing impaired and deaf athletes are necessary because of these athletes' special communication needs. Few hearing impaired or deaf athletes are able to compete on equal terms with normal hearing athletes in the Olympic summer and winter games.
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