Below is a report by the Australian Deaflympic Team Chef de Mission, Bryn Davies regarding his recent visit to Samsun that will be hosting the 2017 Deaflympic Games from 18 - 30 July this year.
Accommodation will be located at Ondokuz Mayis 19 University which is located 20-25 minutes by car/ bus west of Samsun and is known as the Deaflympics Village. There are three accommodation areas within the university grounds that are 2-5km’s from each other. Each accommodation area has a number of blocks with several rooms over several floors, and each block will have its own dining hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner at advertised times, and a cafeteria that is open 24 hours, however cafeteria purchases are at the athlete’s cost, whereas the dining hall is included in the $60USD/ night cost.
Food options are of a wide variety and you will be able to have breakfast, lunch, dinner of your choosing – lunch can also be ordered and delivered to the venue you are expected to be at but there is a process involved with lunch orders – must be submitted to me by 2pm the day before.
There are also 24-hour reception services, massage rooms, meeting rooms in each accommodation block that can be utilised during our stay there. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) will also provide laundry services for a fee, however room cleaning is included in the cost and done every 2 days. There are ice machines in every block for use however I need to liaise with the LOC about having baths or something similar installed so that athletes can have ice baths for recovery purposes – the bathrooms at the accommodation are only shower facilities. WiFi is available for free and assurances from the LOC have been made to ensure internet speeds are of an acceptable standard for video calls.
Each room at the Deaflympics Village consists of up to 3 beds, shower, toilet, lockable storage for clothes and small equipment, a bar fridge and a desk and number of chairs. The floors are tiled which is ideal in summer conditions in keeping the room cool, however there is no air-conditioning – the LOC are going to investigate supplying each room with fans to keep rooms cool during the day.
Broadly, the Deaflympics Village will have an International area for athletes and officials of all countries mingling together, as well have access to international ATMs, market, recreation and cultural activities and currency exchange offices.
Being university dormitories, they do have some rules that we will need to abide by, and I acknowledge they will not be popular rules. However, the rules are there to ensure that everyone is able to sleep and recover during competition, and to keep the peace amongst village inhabitants. This includes:
No smoking indoors, including restaurants
Alcohol is prohibited anywhere in the Deaflympics Village
Male and female athletes are not allowed to stay in the same room
Accreditation cards must be kept on you at all times, in the village as well as sport venues. There is a $100 USD payment for replacement of lost accreditation cards.
I found the accommodation facilities and proximity to the services to be satisfactory with only a couple of concerns relating to the lack of air-conditioning and baths which I will address with the LOC.
The transportation plan for the Deaflympics will consist mainly of buses to transport athletes and officials between the Deaflympics Village and sport venues for training and competition.
The transportation plan also includes airport pick ups and drop offs. With regards to transfers in Istanbul, they will have signage and Deaflympics personnel at Ataturk airport in the international arrivals area directing us to be quickly processed and transferred to the domestic terminal for our flight to Samsun – the domestic terminal is a 5 minute walk and at no stage during the transfer you are outside. On arrival at Samsun airport which is similar to a regional airport in Australia, much smaller – there will be transportation ready for us to go to the Deaflympics Village via the accreditation centre. As we are likely to be arriving around midnight there, I will seek confirmation that our accreditation can be collected at the Samsun airport rather than the accreditation centre in an effort to minimise delays in settling down after a long trip from Australia.
Travel to sport venues from the Deaflympics Village will be a ring service, with several buses travelling around a designated route stopping at all sport venues in Samsun. For sport venues outside of Samsun, there will be buses travelling between the Deaflympics Village and those sport venues.
For team sports, they will be designated their own bus to travel to training and competition venues, to minimise the risk of arriving close to their scheduled training or competition time.
The opening and closing ceremonies is the busiest times of the transportation plan for obvious reasons – getting all the athletes, officials and overseas spectators to the venue in good time is a big logistical task. They are mindful of this and have plans in place to ensure everyone is transported there and back in good time, and do not go without food or refreshments for too long.
Samsun also has a tram system that runs from the Deaflympics Village all the way to the opening/ closing ceremony stadium that is located 20 minutes east of Samsun – a 40km route that travels along the coast. Whilst athletes and officials would not be using this transport option to get to sport venues, it is an option for days off and sightseeing around Samsun.
On all fronts, the transportation plan is of a high standard. Like any plans, there will be some teething issues in the early days which would be ironed out over the course of the Deaflympics and I am confident they have the resources and flexibility to adjust where necessary.
Obviously one of the important considerations for the LOC in the current climate in Turkey – they have clearly made this a priority for the Deaflympics. During my time in Samsun, there always was a police presence around the group, even at sport venues and Deaflympics Village.
There will be a security presence whilst travelling on Deaflympics transportation – a police escort will accompany all buses and cars ensuring there will not be many traffic jams during travel between Deaflympics and sport venues.
At the Deaflympics Village, security is a priority. The entrance to the university grounds is manned by security similar to toll booths on a freeway, with boom gates. Within the accommodation blocks, there are CCTV cameras all over the place, as well as a mixture of police and university security patrolling the grounds. There will also be security personnel on each floor of each accommodation block, and a security office on the ground floor of each accommodation block.
At sport venues, police, private security and military personnel will provide a robust security presence and there will be separate entrances for players and officials, spectators and referees/ umpires at each venue.
At no stage did I have any concerns about my safety for the whole trip, especially in Istanbul. To be frank, while the security plan in place is of a very high standard, I do admit it is a bit over the top. At the same time I acknowledge that this plan is in place to provide peace of mind for all associated with the Deaflympics, as it is clearly a case of ‘better safe than sorry’.
The trip took in a lot of sport venues however I will only mention the sports that Australia will likely be represented in at the Deaflympics:
This venue was first off the bat during the 2 day trip, and whilst it is currently under construction, the location of the venue is very good – just off the main road of Samsun (Ataturk Boulevarde) and close to the Samsun CBD. It is within walking distance of the tram line. It has one grandstand that can seat 2000 people, and has a warm up track next door. It is 15km from the Deaflympics Village, about 20 minutes drive. This will also be one of the two training venues, the other being located at the Deaflympics Village.
One of the venues that is located outside of Samsun, in Bafra. It is a multi sports venue, which is capable of hosting a variety of sports however for the Deaflympics it will be used for badminton only. It can seat up to 2000 people and will consist of 5 badminton courts. It will take 40km and 50 minutes to travel to this venue from the Deaflympics Village. This venue will also be the training venue.
Two venues were visited during the trip, Hasan Dogan Sports Hall and the newer Yasar Dogan Sports Hall. At the time we were told these would be the two basketball venues, however it is now uncertain whether the Hasan Dogan Sports Hall will host basketball games as volleyball is potentially going to need this venue. However the second venue, Yasar Dogan Sports Hall was of an impressive standard and can comfortably seat 7500. This venue is next door to the opening and closing ceremony venue, Tekkekoy Mayis 19 Stadium which is currently under construction. Both venues are
located 30km from the Deaflympics Village, a 45 minute drive. The training venues for basketball will be the two mentioned as well as DSI Sports Hall which is about 10km and 20 minutes from the Deaflympics Village. Hasan Dogan Sports Hall is 25km and 35 minutes from the Village.
Cycling – Points race
The route for the points race is located outside of Samsun, in the 19 Mayis area which is about 25km or 30 minutes from the Deaflympics Village. The points course is located on the coast.
Cycling – Road race/ time trial
The course for the road race and time trial will originate from Mayis 19 and goes through Bafra to the Alacam area, a route that is 50km each way. The time trial will be along the same route but the turn will happen earlier, in between Bafra and Alacam. This route appears to be mostly road with long stretches and some upwards and downwards slopes that are neither steep or shallow. As it originates in the 19 Mayis area, it is 25km or 30 minutes from the Deaflympics Village.
This venue, Atakum Olympic Swimming Pool is located close to the Deaflympics Village and should take 10km or 15 minutes from the Deaflympics Village. It has a 50m pool as per Deaflympics regulations, as well as a 25m warm up pool, and can seat up to 1000 people. This will also be a training pool alongside with another 2 pools, one located near the University (University Olympic Swimming Pool) and a 5km/ 10 minute drive, and the other located in 19 Mayis which is about 20km/ 30 minutes (19 Mayis Swimming Pool)
Samsun Bowling Hall was also visited, however it is currently under construction. When completed, it will have 38 bowling lanes and seating for 1000. This venue shares the same block of land as the table tennis venue which is also under construction. This venue is close to the Samsun CBD and tram line, and will take around 15km/ 20 minutes from the Deaflympics Village. This is also the training venue.
Samsun Tennis Club with 6 hardcourts and a clubhouse that has a number of changing rooms is located near the Samsun CBD and is 20km/ 30 minutes from the Deaflympics Village. It can seat up to 1000 people when seating stands are installed, and will be a training venue along with 1 other – Yatch Club Tennis Courts which is next door to the Tenpin Bowling venue currently under construction and is also hardcourt.
All sport venues inspected, or currently under construction, were of a very good standard overall - some higher than others due to the age of the venue – however the LOC has done a tremendous job in selecting the majority of the venues to be along the coast of Samsun and easily accessible by bus or tram for everyone, and with sufficient seating at most venues.
All in all, the trip, even though it was quick, was a very worthwhile exercise and gave me important information that I will relay to the ADT shortly after this – information that I would not have gleaned if the trip did not occur.
Bryn Davies, Chef de Mission, 2017 Australian Deaflympics Team