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Slovakia: Deaflympics 2011 Controversy

According to media reports, corruption and unfinished facilities may mar Slovakia's chances to hold a successful Deaflympics this month. Problems were known to exist as far back as last spring, and doubts and controversy remain even today.

On May 17, 2010, USA Deaf Sports Federation reported that “[i]n response to the lack of planning, securing of funding, and other issues regarding the 17th Winter Deaflympics, the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) has canceled the 2011 Winter Deaflympics that were to take place next February in Slovakia.”

However, two months later, on July 23, the Slovak Deaflympics Committee announced “that the 17th Winter Deaflympic Games 2011 in [Vysoke Tatry]/Slovakia will be held in the date of 18th-26th February 2011 were approved by the ICSD proceedings regarding the positive results of the inspection.”

A few days ago, on Feb. 6, the Organising Committee of the 17th Winter Deaflympics issued a statement, claiming that, despite all the problems, the Games will be held “as scheduled” – but “with the respect of the real situation will be realized the minimized budget.” Also, according to the statement, the “negotiated construction of the winter stadiums in [Levoča] and [Kežmarok] will be realized according to the schedule, even if the Deaflympics will not take place on them.”

Igor Šajtlava, the major of Kežmarok, has a different opinion, however:

[...] I am 100% sure that the stadium in Kežmarok will be not finished and it is even questionable whether the Deaflympics will take place at all. [...]

Additionally, the city of Levoča announced in late January its intention to sue the Slovak Deaflympics Committee and the developer company because of the unfinished stadium in Levoča.

SME describes Jaromír Ruda, head of the Slovak Organising Committee, as a champion of promises and someone who is accused of a 1.6 million Euro Deaflympics-related fraud. The newspaper claims that Ruda has no agreement with any stadium, and even all his hotel reservations in High Tatras have allegedly been canceled. The only promise he has kept until now is the 2008 World Deafympics Congress in Bratislava – though some bills from that event haven't been covered yet (and Ruda did not attend the Congress personally – because at that time he was in prison).

Below are some of the readers’ comments to the SME article linked to above:

lost_boy:

A man who has embezzled 1.6 million Euro still works – two years later – for the organization he had robbed and has the main voice in such decisions as the organization of the [Deaflympics] event. Welcome to the banana republic in the heart of Europe.

wayne_rooney:

Oh God, where we are living… That will be big shame again :(

Jumo (in reply):

This shame will fall on the organizer. No one else has anything to do with it.

yoss:

To feel ashamed of it is the same nonsense as to be proud of one's own country. One can only feel proud or ashamed for the things he has made or raised oneself.

halface:

The state is responsible for this. That man has to be in prison for a long time – instead of still making promises and stealing.

dukovany:

Put prison garb on him… in front of all those athletes… to let him perform the gala opening and then work till the end of his life at repairing of the half-ruined stadiums in Kežmarok and Bardejov… Shame, I do not understand how such a man can sleep, if it is his mistake…

New Bobko:

Slovakia should definitively stop applying for the right to organise any international events. Usually we lose money and end up embarrassed.

Pietro Mennea (in reply):

But why? Some people will make big money from that. [We are such a small nation, so] there's hope that eventually we all can have our share of it.

Iohan-Amos Comenius:

Something doesn't make sense here. It does not seem likely to me that the Olympics could depend on one person.

sarapes:

It is deafpolice and deafjudge.

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