The Military World Games are specifically organised for military sportspeople, and are convened by the International Military Sports Council. Their structure is similar to the Olympic Games, in that several sports and nations are represented, and the events are held every 4 years. Like the Olympics, the Military Games also introduced a Winter Edition which was first held in 2010, in the Aosta Valley of Italy. The first Summer Games were held in Rome in 1995.
The International Military Sports Council was founded in 1948 and is second in size only to the International Olympic Committee. It coordinates various sporting events for the armed forces of its 134 member countries. This helps to foster friendship and camaraderie between soldiers, even if they were previously on opposing sides on the battlefield. As the Council’s Missionary Statement of 1998 sets forth, its ultimate objective is to unite armed forces through sports and so contribute to world peace. Under the motto Friendship through Sport and working from the its 3 principles of Sport, Friendship and Solidarity, the Council has worked to achieve this by convening the Military World Games and other events.
Before 1995, the International Military Sports Council had a longstanding tradition of organising 15 to 20 World Championships for different sports each year. Many separate sporting events are still held, but the World Games were a way to bring all member nations together to celebrate the sports they contested, and were seen as being more in the Council’s spirit of friendship and solidarity. The first Games actually commemorated the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the ratification of the United Nations Organisation Charter.
Staging the Military World Games
These Games do have sports and structural points in common with the Olympics, but they serve a different body of athletes (namely the Armed Forces) and are always staged a year before the Olympics. The Summer Military Games involve 23 sports, with 3 of them – the Aeronautical, Naval and Military Pentathlons – being specific to the Armed Forces. The other sports involved are Golf, Judo, Boxing, Athletics, Horse Riding, Basketball, Football, Handball, Fencing, Taekwondo, Triathlon events, Volleyball, Swimming, Shooting, Wrestling, Sailing, Parachuting, Modern Pentathlon, Cycling and Orienteering. The current Winter Games sports are Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon events, Alpine Skiing, Short Track Speed Skating, Ski Mountaineering and Orienteering, Sport Climbing and, in keeping with the Armed Forces slant, Military Patrol.
A Worldwide Presence
By promoting peace and dignity, while striving for excellence, the Military World Games have become a real force in the international sports community. The International Military Sports Council has come to play an important role in the training of elite athletes, and the World Games are a significant competitive arena. International sports solidarity has helped to promoted peaceful proceeding and tolerance, and the Council’s many efforts, including the Military World Games, have gone a long way towards developing this. Athletes participating in these events, promoting peace and setting an example for others around the world are highly regarded in sporting circles within the Armed Forces and the rest of the world.