On February 22, the III Winter World Military Games will commence in Sochi, Russia. With the motto of “Friendship through Sport,” the International Military Sports Council (CISM) will act as the organizer for the games. This edition of the games will consist of seven sports: Ski Mountaineering, Sports Climbing, Cross Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Short Track Speed Skating and Ski Orienteering.
It is estimated that over 1,000 competitors from 22 countries will participate in this year’s games. However, key countries including the United States of America, Canada, Norway and Latvia will not be present for the competition. These nations have chosen to boycott the games for several reasons. According to the Sputnik News, the Latvian Defense Ministry said “the country’s athletes will boycott the games due to Russia’s doping scandal and its alleged aggression in eastern Ukraine.”
Although the magnitude of this competition and the conflict in the world right now is not on the same scale as it was during the the 1980 Olympics, it is difficult to omit mentioning the historical importance of the date February 22, 1980. That was the legendary day when the college-aged kids of the United States beat the Soviet Union in hockey to advance to the Gold Medal Game. Before this historic game took place, there was doubt as to whether or not the Russians were even going to participate in the Olympics because of Cold War tensions. Today, the United States will not be sending athletes to compete in Sochi. With tension in the world as it is, and in the world of sports at all times, military men and women are amazingly able to use this platform as an outlet for competition, a connector with opposing soldiers and as a canvass for self-expression. The CISM has a praiseworthy mission, which states that it “aims to encourage sports competitions between the members of the armed forces, promote the development of military-applied sports and expansion of
relations between the armies.”
This year, the Torch Relay and the Opening Ceremony will take place on February 24. Like the Winter and Spring Olympics, the World Military Games are held once every four years. The Spring World Military Games are generally more popular than the Winter Games, as they have been going on for a longer time. The first Winter Games were held in Italy in 2010, and 43 countries were present for the competition. This year, the number of participating countries is down to 22, a disappointment for the CISM.
To try and boost the number of participating nations, the CISM will likely host the 2021 Winter World Military Games in Germany.
“When Germany is candidate… nobody else dares to go against them because the whole CISM community knows the German reputation for hosting top-class CISM events,” Colonel Dorah Mamby Koita, CISM secretary
For now, the CISM will have to make the best of the situation. Sochi, which recently hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, has high quality stadiums. The competitors will go out and do their best to represent their nations with honor. Despite major nations not being in attendance, the III Winter World Military Games will aim to achieve its motto of “Friendship