Rio de Janeiro is currently gearing up to host two of the biggest sporting events in the world, the 2014 Men’s World Cup and 2016 summer Olympics. This past July, the city also got an outstanding warm up, successfully hosting the Fifth CISM Military World Games, sponsored by the International Military Sports Council.
Founded in 1948 by military leaders in Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the CISM’s motto is “Friendship through Sport.” To this end, the council organizes international sporting events all over the world, including the World Games, held every four years. This July, more than 5000 military athletes representing the armed forces of 108 nations came to test themselves in the Marvelous City.
Here in Rio, they were called the “Peace Games,” and pitted athletes against each other in 20 different sports. In addition to beach volleyball, swimming, and equestrian events, non-Olympic competitions showcased military skills such as in parachuting, military pentathlons, and orienteering—using a map and compass the quickly maneuver through the Brazilian countryside.
The Ministry of Defense and the Brazilian armed forces organized the games, but the civilian government and people from every walk of life have been helping. The entire country has pitched in by designing distinctively Brazilian medals and a handy online guidebook, as well as sprucing up Olympic facilities before the bigger games. .
The Military World Games went off without a hitch, despite a bomb threat and a bit of confusion regarding venues and schedules. All these issues serve to streamline Rio’s capabilities before all eyes turn to the city in 2014.
The big World Game winners were China and Brazil, earning more than 80 medals each, with Italy, Poland, and Germany rounding out the top five. And the athletes? They’ve gone back to their home nations, perhaps standing watch along opposite sides of fortified borders. And they know that the men and women across that arbitrary border were friendly competitors, and perhaps friends, for one festive week in Rio.
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