More than 3,500 athletes from more than 75 countries took part in the 20th Summer Deaflympic Games for deaf and hearing impaired athletes in Melbourne, Australia.
The athletes competed in track and field, basketball, water polo and 12 other major sports disciplines during the games in January 2005.
The 12 days of Deaflympic games are second only to the Olympic games in age, and among multi-sports events and among the fastest growing, 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.
Park City, Utah in the United States will host the next Deaflympic Winter Games in February 2007.
Source: www.bbc.co.uk and www.deaflympics.com
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