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Over 700 athletes from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa were today cheered on by thousands of fans as they marched in to Geelong Arena as part of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Australian Deaf Games in Geelong.
Representing Minister for Sport and Recreation, Hugh Delahunty, Member for South Barwon, Andrew Katos joined members of the Australian Deaf Games Organising Committee to officially welcome the athletes on behalf of the Victorian Government.
“Over the last few months, host city Geelong has been gearing up to host the largest deaf sporting and cultural event in the country and it’s fantastic to see the event kick off in such spectacular style,” Mr Katos said.
“Today, sport fans have been treated to a gala opening ceremony featuring hip hop dancers, performances by the internationally acclaimed Strange Fruit Theatre Company and award-winning deaf dance company, Deaf Can Dance.
“The great news is there’s more to come over the coming week with some of the nation’s deaf and hard of hearing athletes competing at the Games.
From 14-21 January athletes will be competing in up to16 different sports at a range of quality venues in Geelong and Melbourne, including 2006 Commonwealth Games stadiums – Geelong Arena and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Mr Katos said it’s been nearly 30 years since Victoria last hosted the Games.
“That’s why the Victorian Government is proud to welcome this fantastic event back to Victoria in the best possible way by providing $50,000 to event organisers Deaf Sports Australia through our Significant Sporting Events Program,” Mr Katos said.
“Backing sporting events like these not only provides an opportunity for deaf athletes to excel but encourages everyone to become involved, participate, and celebrate the power of sport to bring people together in a positive way.
“There’s also a fantastic range of cultural and social events on offer during the Games including a film festival, comedy nights, debates and youth sport programs; so there’s truly something for everyone.
“There’s no doubt events like these epitomise all that’s best in sport and I encourage all Victorians to come along and enjoy the 2012 Australian Deaf Games in Geelong,” Mr Katos said.
President of Deaf Sports Australia, Brent Phillips said the support of the State Government and the City of Greater Geelong has allowed the Games program to grow.
“Deaf Sports Australia is grateful for the support of the State Government which has enabled us to put on an exciting and diverse sport and social program,’ Mr Phillips said.