SwimSwam will periodically update you on the biggest news around the Olympic and Paralympic world, outside of aquatic sports. Read on to learn about a financial fiasco with the recent Summer Deaflympics in Brazil, a gold medal stolen out of a car in California, and rising Russian concern over the country’s potential exclusion from the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Deaflympics organizing committee runs out of money
The organizing committee of the Summer Deaflympics, which concluded May 15 in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, is reportedly out of money and unable to pay vendors, according to UOL.com.br.
The financial issues stem from a political dispute over the location of the two-week event, which was postponed from 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, the first-ever Deaflympics in Latin America was slated for Rio de Janeiro, where the 2016 Olympic facilities could be used and federal support was guaranteed. Then Gustavo Perazzolo became the interim president of International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD), moved the Deaflympics back to his hometown of Caxias do Sul, and lost his federal government’s conditional support.
Without federal funding, the Deaflympics relied heavily on entry fees. The largest delegation, Russia, was banned from competition along with its ally, Belarus, in the wake of the war on Ukraine. Australia, China, and the United Kingdom did not participate due to the pandemic. In total, less than 2,400 athletes competed in an event designed for 6,000. To make matters worse, revenue from sponsors fell well below expectations.
A hotel in Caxias do Sul opened a police report against organizing committee chief Richard Ewald alleging less than half of the nearly $100,000 bill has been paid. A tourism company in Canela wrote a letter to First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro claiming she owes about $730,000.
“The decision was to go to the end with the operation of the event and count on your help in the Federal Government to get money for the event to pay all the suppliers that are working tirelessly for this important event,” the owner of the company wrote.
The Deaflympics were also plagued by COVID-19. Japan had 10 athletes and one official test positive, forcing an early exit with five days remaining. The Japanese delegation said PCR tests were promised upon arrival by organizers but never actually carried out.
The Brazilian Confederation of Sports for the Deaf (CBDS) blamed the local organizing committee for the mishandling of the event while defending the government’s actions.
“About a year ago, the Federal Government issued a statement informing that [it] would not have the resources to invest in the event… the organizing committee was aware of this information,” the CBDS wrote in a statement.
A more detailed financial report is expected Friday when Ewald and Perazzolo will hold a press conference to address the situation.
Gold medal stolen from American Olympian
Jordyn Poulter, a setter who helped win the U.S.’s first-ever Olympic gold in women’s volleyball last summer in Tokyo, is now on the hunt for her stolen medal.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Poulter left her rental car unlocked and her garage door open last Wednesday in Anaheim, California – where the team trains – before she went inside to shower and attend a Zoom meeting. When she returned to her car, it was evident that someone had gone through the car and taken the bag containing her passport. The center console, where she had left her gold medal, was empty.
The 24-year-old is hopeful that her prized possession will turn up after reporting the theft to Anaheim police.
“It’s not pure gold, so if you try to melt it down, it’s not going to get you very far,” Poulter said. “The inside is made of recycled computer parts and then plated. So it’s not worth much in that sense.”
Olympic coach Karch Kiraly said there would be “no questions asked, no consequences” if someone returned the medal to Anaheim police.
“We’re just keeping fingers crossed,” he said. “We’re keeping our hopes up.”
Russians concerned about Olympic exclusion
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded Saturday to IOC president Thomas Bach’s comments that Russian entry into Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers will hinge on the status of the country’s war against Ukraine.
“The desire to remove Russian athletes, who have become hostages of the political ambitions of the United States and its allies, from participation in the Olympics is a gross violation of their rights,” Zakharova said. “Thomas Bach’s clearly biased and politicized decision contradicts IOC statutory documents, the Olympic Charter, and UN General Assembly resolutions on sports.”