A trip to Russia
By Gordon Hay, Community Manager
Between 26th and 28th March, Philip Gerrard (CEO) and I were in Khanty-Mansiysk, West Siberia, Russia for the 45th International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) Congress which concluded with the Winter Deaflympics Opening Ceremony. In case anyone is interested, this is 5,288km away from here and would take 1,033 hours to walk, I’ll leave Philip to work out how many steps that would be!
During the Congress we received the final report of the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics, a loss of 21,000 LEV (around 10,000 Euros) was incurred, which given it was organised within 12 months was applauded. We also received information on the preparations for Turkey 2017 which are well underway. Sadly, on the 2nd day of the conference one of the Argentinian delegates passed away bringing a sombre air to the proceedings.
Whilst we were in Russia we used Twitter to update people at home on events. We were pleasantly surprised when Joy Squires, a local Labour Parliamentary Candidate who had recently met with the deaf community in Worcester, retweeted us:
The Opening Ceremony took place in a sports centre, and we were relieved it was an indoor event as outside temperatures were as low as -22C. Around 3,000 people were in attendance to watch the performances from deaf and hearing performers, including children from deaf schools. The event was visually vibrant, with lots of colour. One of the most memorable performances was a group of 8/9 year old gymnasts performing human pyramid style feats.
As with every Olympics there was a flag ceremony, unfortunately because of international politics the Ukrainian team boycotted the opening ceremony, despite the Ukrainian delegate at the Congress saying that deaf Russians and deaf Ukrainians remained friends. As a last minute substitute, to save face, a member of the backstage crew carried the Ukrainian Flag!
Many speeches and pledges were made by both deaf and hearing athletes, referees and dignitaries. Due to the number of nationalities attending the conference, the speeches had to be translated in to at least three other languages at any one time. When the speech was being made in spoken Russian, a Russian Sign Language interpreter relayed it to an International Sign Interpreter on stage. Every few seconds they would all pause (much to the confusion of the deaf delegates!) in order to allow time for the English translation to be heard over the speaker. Unfortunately the same translation time was not afforded to the English translator when a deaf delegate presented – who would continue to sign, unaware of whether the spoken translators were keeping up with what was being said. At one point the interpreter was around 1.5 minutes behind and so we then all had to wait for it to be voiced over.