UK Deaf Sport has launched a campaign calling on the government to end the discrimination against elite deaf athletes.
Despite the UK having one of the best-funded talent and performance sport support systems in the world, with £612 million allocated over four years to Olympic and Paralympic sport, current policy excludes deaf athletes from accessing it as they do not compete in the Paralympics.
Deaf athletes can only compete in the Paralympics if they have another eligible Paralympic disability.
They compete in the Deaflympics which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee on the same footing as the Olympics and Paralympics.
“It is not well-known that the Deaflympics is a separate event to the Paralympics, but that is simply not a valid excuse for the Government to continue to exclude elite deaf athletes, and modern society no longer accepts discrimination at this level,” said Piers Martin, Chair of UK Deaf Sport.
“Without equitable support for elite deaf athletes, in the same way as their Paralympic peers, there can be no role models for young deaf people to aspire to, no supported pathway to develop, and they are turned away from clubs.
“It is no surprise that activity levels amongst the 12 million strong deaf community are some of the worst across our society. Join us to challenge this Government to make such a simple, but fair, change that will make such a significant impact across the whole deaf community, and society at large.”
The national governing body for deaf sport in the UK is now calling for the government to commit £3m over the next four years, just 0.5% of the current UK Sport budget, to send a competitive GB Team to the next Deaflympics in Tokyo in 2025.
The charity also argues that government funding for elite deaf sport will also help encourage more deaf people to participate in sport at all levels by improving the pathways and providing inspiring role models.
One in five adults are deaf and recent research has found that the deaf community are one of the most inactive groups with 53% of deaf adults being inactive.
More details on how to support the campaign can be found at www.ukdeafsport.org.uk/fairplayfordeafathletes