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Disability sport continued in Syria in 2015 despite the ongoing conflict

Flag of Syria

As the conflict in Syria got worse in much of 2015 and created the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, disability sport slowly crawled on in the country as sporting infrastructure crumbled, was bombed or was taken over for other purposes.

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In March, Syria was one of fourteen countries to sent a team to the 6th Fazza IPC Powerlifting World Cup. In July, Syria sent a 21 member strong delegation to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, with the delegation picking up  three gold medals, four silvers and one bronze. All four of the country’s silver medals were won by  Mohammad Bitar in the 74 kg weight class in powerlifting. Nasser Eddin picked up a bronze medal in the same sport in the 52 kg weight class. Anwar Samakeh won two gold medals.  Sami Marei won the country’s last medal, a gold, in the pool.

 

On December 3, Special Olympics Syria hosted a 1 kilometer cycling event on the streets of Mezzeh in Damascus.  Following the cycling, a football game took place featuring players with intellectual disabilities.  This event was attended by the Syrian Minister of Tourism who was quoted by Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) as saying, “What [Special Olympics] offer government and private institutions for people with special needs in the field of education or health field and in the various fields is a good step to build a strong and cohesive society.”  At the same event, SANA quoted the Minister of Administrative Development Dr. Hassan al-Nouri as saying of it, “We are very happy to see all the spectrum of the Syrian society cooperate and interact with so accomplished. We have come to the integration of civil society with the state and popular sports organizations interaction.”

damaged building

Reported damage to Sports City in Aleppo. Image credit: الاتحاد الرياضي العام/Syrian General Sports Federation

In late December, the Syrian General Sports Federation reported extensive damage was done to the Sports City in Aleppo following a rocket-propelled grenade attack.  Its damaged the wall connecting the rehabilitation of the structural area, and the headquarters of the Executive Committee.  It also damaged tennis courts.

 

Outside this though, it is unclear what is going on inside or outside Syria for the country’s Paralympians, Special Olympians and Deaflympians.  While the  NPC Syrian Arab Republic remains in good standing with the International Paralympic Committee, it does not appear to have sent competitor to the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships nor the 2014 Shooting World Cup in Suhl, nor any IPC Shooting World Cups in 2015.  The country did send a delegation delegation to the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, with the country finishing 52 out of 62 on the medal table, with Mohamad Mohamad winning a silver in the Men’s Javelin Throw F57.  He was one of five Syrian competitors in London and one of two in athletics.  The other was Bassam  Bassam Sawsan. The others were all in powerlifting, with these athletes competing at last year’s IPC Powerlifting World Championships in Dubai.  The men’s team ranked 30th on the medal table, and the women’s team finished 10th on the medal table.  These results suggest Syria should be in Rio, even if it requires them to be invited.

Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2533 Articles)
<p>Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.</p>

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