A member of the Deaflympics committee focused on “equality” between deaf and hearing people as the 23rd edition of the games got underway earlier this week in the Black Sea province of Samsun.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency Hasan Dikyuva emphasized the deaf culture among people with hearing disabilities
“We are all equal. And we convinced Samsun’s people to believe it,” he said.
Dikyuva, who is also an expert at the Turkish National Sports Federation for the Deaf, described deaf culture as a “silent environment”.
As part of preparations for the Samsun Games, 5,000 workers and volunteers were given sign language instruction to help welcome deaf athletes.
“The speaking community couldn’t come side by side the deaf community. They were anxious, and sometimes shocked even. When we explain to them that deaf people have their own culture, they get used to it over time,” he said.
As a member of a minority, Dikyuva urges the majority to “empathize” with those who are hearing impaired.
“When the speaking community learns sign language, they will get an insight into the deaf people and they will see the identity those people have in the field.”
Preparing for the largest-ever Deaflympics in Samsun has been a difficult and time-consuming process. Dikyuva described the results in the technical area as world class.
Turkey spent 450 million lira ($127 million) to construct 42 facilities in various districts of the province where athletes will compete in 21 categories, including basketball, football, swimming and wrestling.
The first games for the deaf, known then as the International Silent Games, were held in 1924 in Paris with athletes from nine European nations participating.
From those humble beginnings, the latest games that has grown into the world’s third largest sporting organization, began Tuesday in Samsun with more than 3,000 athletes from 97 countries participating.
It is set to run through July 30.