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Santa Monica to Host Opening of 15th World Games for Deaf

July 04, 1985|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

The Russians aren't coming.

But it'.Ws apparently economic--not political--reasons that will keep them out of the Santa Monica/Los Angeles XV World Games for the Deaf. The games will take place July 10-20, mostly at Westside locations.

A spokesman for the games said that the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, East Germany and Czechoslovakia pulled out of this year's games after sending a last-minute cable to Jerald Jordan, president of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf. They wired Jordan that they would be unable to send their national teams because of financial reasons, the spokesman said.

Just as in the 1984 Olympics, the withdrawal of Russia and other Eastern Bloc countries should make it easier for the United States to win more medals than any other national team. The United States has won the last three World Games for the Deaf, and the Soviet Union, winner in 1961 and 1969, was been runner-up to the United States in 1973, 1977 and 1981. And when the Soviets captured their two firsts, the Americans finished second.

The games, inaugurated in France in 1924, are under the auspices of the Comite International des Sports des Sourdes. The 1985 games are sponsored by the American Athletic Assn. of the Deaf.

Competition is patterned after the Olympics, but the games for the deaf do not includes as many sports. That is largely because the deaf population of the world is much smaller than the hearing population and the pool of athletes is correspondingly smaller. Badminton and table tennis, not official Olympic sports, are included in the games for the deaf.

Originally, the 15th games were to have included 13 athletic events, but the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the three satellite nations led to cancellation of wrestling and the pole vault, triple jump and steeplechase in men's track and field because there are not enough athletes left to make these events competitive.

Opening ceremonies will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday and closing ceremonies at 4 p.m. July 20 at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

Schedule of Events

The schedule of other events, subject to change: athletics (track and field), July 11-17, Drake Stadium; badminton, July 13-17, Memorial Park in Santa Monica; basketball, July 11-19, Pepperdine University in Malibu; cycling, July 11, 13, 15 and 17, Griffith Park and Emma Wood Park in Ventura; soccer, July 11-20, El Camino College in Torrance, and shooting, July 12-13 and 15-16, Prado Range in Corona.

Also, swimming, July 11-16, Pepperdine; table tennis, July 11-17, Santa Monica College; team handball, July 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19, Santa Monica College; tennis, July 11-19, Pepperdine; volleyball, July 11-19, Palisades High School (with the finals at Pepperdine); water polo, July 15-20, Pepperdine.

Some late additions: the hammer throw at 10 a.m. July 16 at West Los Angeles College (free admission) and a 1,000-meter cycling sprint from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Santa Monica, with the starting line at Ocean Avenue and the California Incline.

As with the Olympics, there will also be an arts festival. Part of it will be presented July 9-19 at Pepperdine's Smothers Theater. Programs there will include dance, mime and acrobatics by the Shanghai Theater of the Deaf from the China; a Swiss children's singing-signing company performing "A Show of Hands, U. S. A."; a group from Spain that will present a signed performance of Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding" and dance presentations by the Gallaudet Dancers and Deaf Dimensions.

'Survivors of Holocaust'

Another part of the festival will be an exhibit of photography and documents called "In der Nacht (In the Night): Visions of Deaf Survivors of the Holocaust." The exhibit will be held July 8-21 at the Hillel-Streisand Center for Jewish Cultural Arts, 900 Hilgard Ave. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The motto of the games is "Per Ludos Aequalitas" (Equality Through Sport).

The honorary chairman of the games is Jeff Float, a hearing-impaired American swimmer. Float is a graduate of the World Games for the Deaf, and in 1977 he won 10 gold medals in swimming at the 13th games in Bucharest, Romania.

At last year's Olympics, he showed he was one of the world's top athletes, not just one of the deaf world's best. The USC graduate, who is 80% deaf in one ear and 60% deaf in the other, swam on the winning U. S. 800-meter freestyle relay team that upset West Germany. Float is believed to be the first hearing-impaired American athlete to win a gold medal.

Plenty of Top Talent

Although Float is not competing in this year's games, the competition is expected to have many athletes of his caliber. Carol Billone, vice chairman and director of the games, said, "I want people to know that this is not a 'Special Olympics' but an Olympics that is special." Billone is a teacher of the deaf for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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