IM this article to a friend!

April 5, 2007

2007 Salt Lake City Winter Deaflympics: What Went Wrong

From: - Apr 5, 2007

RESS RELEASE - April 5, 2007



By Rafael Pinkhasov Pinchas, CISS-ICSD Ombudsman



The following communication message was received by this Ombudsman from one married couple residing in the state of Utah, USA:

Dear Mr. Pinchas, the Ombudsman,

Recently we attended the 16th Deaflympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. We witnessed many different events there, but one event – the ice hockey match between the USA and Canada teams in the evening of February 6 - was the most memorable one. The USA team made a huge comeback by winning the game with a score of 4 to 3. This was an exciting happening. But the most horrible occurrence we saw on that evening was during the third period of this USA vs. Canada ice hockey game, where the three police men were trying to arrest you in front of the 3,000 spectators’ crowd. We were relieved to see that a provocation scheme against you – someone allegedly planted under your seat an alcohol bottle - was foiled on that night. We hope you are OK now. Few days ago, by accident, we saw the film produced by the deaf video news crew from Austria ( see On the film we watched the following statement made by Donalda Ammons: during the Games’ Closing Ceremony Ammons declared that she along with her entire CISS Executive Committee agreed that “the Salt Lake City Games were a success and the best ever in history” by openly demonstrating her two thumb up signs. Now, we ask you whether you, a recognized authority on the history of the CISS/Deaflympics, agree with Ammons’ public statement uttered in the evening of February 10, 2007?

In order to answer the question whether the 2007 Winter Deaflympics were “a success” and “the best ever,” let me present to you the ten-randomly selected facts. Also, let me demonstrate as to what kind of work the chief administrator and supervisor of the CISS - Ammons - performed at Salt Lake City recently. After familiarizing with the below-described facts, any ordinary citizen and sports lover - deaf and non-deaf - shall, hopefully, make his/her independent judgment or opinion by agreeing or disagreeing with Ammons’ February 10 statement:

1) On February 28, 2003, during the 38th CISS Congress held in Sundsvall, Sweden, the USA obtained the rights to host the 16th Deaflympic Winter Games in blatant violation of the rules of the CISS Constitution and Deaflympic Games Regulations.

2) There was no snow falling during the entire Games day competitions period. The weather at various outdoor Games sites was a warm one all the time. As a result of this unusual weather, many athletes, officials and spectators received serious sunburns and other illnesses there.

3) The Ammons-led CISS administration again used a misleading propaganda tactic before the world. In the official Games Souvenir Program Book Ammons allowed to publish on its page number three an irresponsible and inflated statistics statement such as, “some 400 athletes from 24 countries will compete in five sports” at the Games ( see Message from the President of the International Olympic Committee Dr. Jacques Rogge ). The facts, however, were these: a mere number of 233 athletes ( 127 - in ice hockey, 44 – in alpine skiing, 36 – in nordic skiing and 26 – in snowboarding ) from 22 nations showed up at the Games. Of the 22 participating nations, six – Australia, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia – each sent just one or two athletes to the Games. The sport of curling, which had approximately 42 competitors, was not counted as an official Games event, it was a demonstration and non-medal event.

4) The Olympic Flame was lit on two days only – on February 3 ( the Opening Ceremony ) and February 10 ( the Closing Ceremony ), respectively. The CISS administration failed to secure the Olympic Flame to remain lit throughout the entire February 4 -9 Games competition days.

5) The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were held in the indoor, non-snowy and iceless locations such as the University of Utah Huntsmann Basketball Center and Salt Palace Convention Center Ballroom. Thus, the CISS administration violated the IOC’s always-traditional “snow” and “ice” principle, that is, to hold the Ceremonies – in an outdoor, snowy/icing area.

6) The electric scoreboard at the Steiner Arena, the venue for ice hockey matches, for example, during the USA vs. Canada game did not display the names of competing teams – such as “USA” and “Canada” - on it. Thus, many paying spectators had no idea as to which team was leading the game and with what score.

7) The first day of competitions in nordic skiing among the men and women held on February 4 at the world-class Soldier Hollow Nordic Center facilities, attracted, believe it or not, just six ( 6 ) spectators! Because of an unexpected high shuttle bus ( $30.00 per person ) fare hike, many people could not afford to travel to the designated competition site.

8) Curling was a demonstration sport at the Games. However, curlers had an unusual distinction: they were allowed to take part in the two different Opening Ceremonies – on February 3 and again on February 5 ( the curlers had their own sport’s Opening Ceremony at the Steiner Arena ). Also, the medal-winning alpine skiers and snowboarders, unlike nordic skiers and ice hockey players, had two different celebrations on the podiums – one was staged at the competition site in Park City Mountain Resort in the afternoons ( there 1st , 2nd and 3rd place finishers received prizes on the podium ) and another one was at the Steiner Arena in the evenings). These acts were in violation of the CISS universal motto “Equal Through Sports.”

9) Because of the insufficient number of entries in the event, the two disciplines – women’s 3x5 kilometer nordic skiing relay and women’s half-pipe snowboarding – were cancelled.

10) The most embarrassing and humiliating daily Games scenarios were these: at the Steiner Arena in the evenings every medal winning athlete standing on the medal podium received his/her medal and “diploma” from the hands of a CISS Executive Committee member. National flags were raised and many spectators in attendance stood by applauding. However, that “diploma” was a fake one. Instead, it was a white paper in blank. Medal-winning athletes were upset and unhappy with the awarding of “fake diplomas” at the medal podium premises ( the CISS officials explained that the real diplomas were not ready yet and would be mailed to every medal-winning athlete’s home later on, that is, after the end of the Games ). Because the CISS administration failed to present the real diplomas in a timely manner to each medal winning athlete in each event plus to those athletes who placed 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in their respective discipline, the CISS violated its three own Deaflympic Games Regulation rules 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3. This, therefore, would automatically translate into an aggregate of 600 ( ! ) new rule violations. That is, 3 rule violations for each event times 8 athlete’s placings equal 24. Then, 24 times 25 contested medal events equal 600 rule violations!

( see photo of "fake diplomas" awarded at the Steiner Area, Salt Lake City, Utah )

Furthermore, another major fact occurred at Salt Lake City should not go unnoticed: for the first time in the CISS history the first day of the 40th CISS Congress held on February 1 failed to have its 50% quorum. That is, 49 CISS member-nations out of 96 ( or, more that 50% ) were absent or they did not send their delegates to the Congress.

By the way, on that same day of February 1 in the late afternoon, the Congress delegates, among the other things, debated and voted on the now-infamous motion "to declare this Ombudsman as the CISS Persona-non-Grata." 34 delegates voted in favor of the motion, while 27 were against and 32 - abstained. Then, on the next day of February 2 in the morning, unhappy, livid and sleepless with the voting outcome of the "Persona-non-Grata" motion, Ammons created her highly-intimidating, shrewd and intentional theatrics among the Congress delegates: her resignation from the CISS Presidency. Then, a few hours later on, by garnering many Congress delegates' pity, sympathy and support, she was predictably brought back to her old CISS position.

It should also be noted that since 1995 Ammons has been working for the CISS. In the last 12 years, as a result, the CISS has invested a great deal of its money for Ammons ( e.g., travels, fancy hotel room accomodations, educational seminars, meetings with the IOC and various International Sports Federations, lawsuits, etc. ).

Argumentatively, it has long been this Ombudsman's eloquent stance that Ammons, a teacher by profession and smooth sign language talker, has not yet learned to act as a professionally sophisticated, competent, prudent, laws-abiding and laws-enforcing chief administrator and supervisor of the CISS.

Thus, in light of the foregoing, can Ammons now justify her own statement - the 2007 Games were "a success" and " the best ever" - she announced before the whole world in the evening of February 10,2007?