The Summer and Winter Deaflympics are among the world’s fastest growing sports events. More than 4,000 deaf athletes and officials from 77 nations participated in the 21st Summer Deaflympics in Taipei, Chinese Taipei, in September 2009. Over 600 athletes and officials participated in the 16th Winter Deaflympics in Salt Lake City, United States in February 2007.
The games are built on 85 years of tradition. Organized since 1924 by the Comité International des Sports des Sourds, CISS (The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf), the first Summer Deaflympics were held in Paris. Winter Deaflympics were added in 1949. The Summer and Winter Deaflympics are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
The need for separate games for deaf athletes is not just evident in the numbers of participants. Deaf athletes are distinguished from all others in their special communication needs on the sports field, as well as in the social interaction that is an equally vital part of the games.