By Tom Degun

deaflympics_13-07-11July 8 - The Greek Government has officially confirmed that they will not provide financial support for the 2013 Deaflympics which is the most high profile sporting event on the planet for deaf athletes.

The decision came after a recent meeting between the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) and the Hellenic Athletic Federation of the Deaf (HAFD) where Greek Deputy Minister of Health and Social Solidarity Christos Aidonis confirmed a decision taken by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou not to fund the Athens 2013 Deaflympics.

The move was expected as there has been no Organising Committee for the event in Athens since 2009 but the current economic turmoil in Greece lead to the formal announcement and has left the future of the ICSD, the governing body for the Deaflympics, in turmoil.

Vancouver was down to host the next Winter Deaflympics in 2015 but the Organising Committee has dissolved and the Canadian Deaf Sports Association has formally handed back the right to host the event with Mark Cooper, the chief executive of the ICSD, admitting that his organisation is facing turbulent times.

"We will now be considering alternatives to Greece as a host country but admittedly things do not look good and we are deeply disappointed by the decision of Athens to pull out at this stage," he told insideworldparasport.

"We had to cancel the 2011 Winter Deaflympics in Slovakia and Vancouver have handed the 2015 event back so we really need to examine our position and the future of the Deaflympics."

Cooper admitted that discussing a move into the Paralympic Games with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is on his agenda.

"The Paralympic Games is certainly an option," he said.

"It is a competition that has gone from strength to strength and which works closely with the Olympic Movement.

"Meanwhile we need to consider if our move to independence was actually a move to isolation and what we must do next."

ICSD president Craig Crowley added: "The decision is also not a complete surprise, especially given the economic crisis in Greece at the moment.

"On becoming President, I was deeply concerned about the hosting arrangements for Slovakia, Athens and Vancouver.

"Our athletes deserve to be able to train with certainty about their future competitions.

"ICSD is already working on possible alternatives to Athens 2013.

"ICSD expects to make a formal announcement about alternatives before the end of July."

The lack of Government financial support for Athens 2013 was clear from an early stage.

In its inspection report from July 2006, ICSD noted the absence of detailed financial commitments from the Greek Government.

The ICSD requested a letter of financial commitment from the Greek Government at the time of the bid presentation in Salt Lake City but the financial commitment was not provided.

A Memorandum of Understanding was later signed in early 2009, which contained no specific guarantees from the Greek Government to finance the Deaflympics but it has not been honoured by Greece.

"ICSD has learnt a valuable lesson about the importance of securing financial guarantees during the bidding phase for deaf sports events," added Crowley.

"It's a lesson that we will begin applying immediately, with regard to future Deaflympics."

HAFD President Ioannis Stoufis said: "For six years, we have worked as hard as possible to achieve our dream of hosting the world of deaf sport in Athens.

"Under the present economic circumstances in Greece, that is simply not possible.

"On behalf of HAFD, I apologise for the inconvenience this decision will cause.

"But HAFD will continue to work to develop deaf sport in Greece and to host deaf athletes from around the world in sporting competition and we will try again to host the Deaflympics in the future."

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