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U.S. Military Athletes Prepare for World Military Games

By Maj. Suba Saty, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 30, 1999 – About 400 military athletes and officials are preparing to represent the United States Aug. 5 to 18 in 21 sporting events at the 2nd Military World Games in Zagreb, Croatia.

The American athletes hail from all the military branches, including the Coast Guard, and will travel under the auspices of DoD's Armed Forces Sports Council here. Some are members of the Army and Air Force World Class Athlete programs.

The World Games are sponsored by the Conseil International du Sport Militaire [French for International Military Sports Council, and better known as CISM]. The meet's 24 events include the familiar basketball, soccer, swimming, boxing and wrestling, but also unusual competitions, such as orienteering, parachuting, and the unique naval pentathlon, which pits athletes in a series of endurance events on land and water.

Founded in 1948, CISM has a membership of 121 nations. In terms of member nations, it is the world's second largest sporting organization after the International Olympic Committee. Its administrative headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.

CISM sports championships were scattered all over the world each year in the past and were merged into the all-encompassing Military World Games in 1995. At the first games, in Rome, the United States finished eighth in total medal count among 83 countries. Croatian officials expect 10,000 athletes and officials from nearly 100 countries to attend the Zagreb games.

U.S. officials and those of other countries have expressed concerns about holding the games in the Balkans at this time. CISM President Col. Gianni Gola of Italy recently sent a message to members that said, in part:

"I'm convinced that CISM, by organizing these Military World Games in Croatia, will very much contribute to re-establish durable and sensed peace in that region. Today, even more than yesterday, Croatia and CISM have to heartily and seriously prepare this big rendezvous in Zagreb. We will prove that peace and friendship will be the driving forces of the civilized world of tomorrow."

For more information on the World Games, visit the Armed Forces Sports Council Web site at http://dticam.dtic.mil/dodsports/ [link no longer available].

[Maj. Suba Saty is the Armed Forces Sports Council communications officer.]

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