By Lindsay Spratt, Sub Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – The official presentation of the Fifth Military World Games was held last Friday September 26, in São João Fort, Urca. Officially dubbed ‘The Peace Games’, they will take place in Rio in July 2011 and attract over 5,000 athletes from 110 countries.
As Rio waits for the 2016 Olympic Games host city announcement on October 2, the synergy between the bid and the Military Games was emphasized at the presentation.
Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, Sports Minister Orlando Silva, Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral, City Mayor Eduardo Paes and Rio 2016 Secretary General Carlos Roberto Osório were present at the ceremony. A focus of their speeches was the fact that it will be the first time the Military Games are hosted by a South American country, a record to be matched by the Olympic Games if Rio’s 2016 bid is successful.
“This is one of the most important sporting events in the world,” said Italian Brigadier General Gianni Gola, President of the International Military Sports Council (CISM). “Rio de Janeiro brings together many factors to ensure the Games are a success, including the city’s continuing efforts to develop sports and the natural hospitality of its residents. These values are also central to the 2016 bid. It is important that the Olympic Movement opens its arms to all continents,” he added.
The Military Games is the third largest sporting event in the world and takes place every four years. The Brazilian government has announced that it will invest R$1 Billion in the contest and that preparations for the 2011 Military Games would be amplified if Rio were to win the 2016 Olympics. Venues from the Pan American Games 2007 and those which form part of the Rio 2016 project will be used in the Military Games.
The Maracanãzinho Arena, the Maria Lenk Aquatic Park, the Deodoro Sports Complex and the João Havelange Olympic Stadium will stage competitions while the Athletes’ Village in Barra da Tijuca will be home to the athletes during their stay in Rio.
“The Military World Games are another great chapter in the sports history of Rio de Janeiro, after the 2007 Pan American Games,” stated Governor Sergio Cabral. “We are working to continue this story on October 2 with the election of Rio as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.”
The event was also attended by by Olympic medalists Adriana Samuel, who won a silver in Atlanta 1996 and bronze at Sydney 2000 in beach volleyball, Adriana Behar, who won a silver in both Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 in beach volleyball and Bernard, with a silver in Los Angeles 1984 in volleyball.
For Rio 2016 Secretary General Carlos Roberto Osório, the World Military Games are another step for Rio de Janeiro along the path to the Olympics. “With two weeks until the selection of the host of the 2016 Games, I would like to thank the armed forces and the three levels of government for their support in this endeavor, which is not only for Rio de Janeiro, but for all of Brazil. We are counting on the facilities, expertise and technological resources of the armed forces,” he said.
During the eight days of the World Military Games, athletes compete for medals in twenty different sports including basketball, parachuting, football, volleyball, swimming, equestrian, sailing, boxing, fencing, judo, beach volleyball, orienteering and various types of pentathlon and triathlon.
“Rio de Janeiro will hold unforgettable World Military Games, with operations and facilities of the highest standard. It will serve as a milestone in the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games, should the city be chosen as the venue. We will show Brazil’s commitment to youth, sports and peace,” said Orlando Silva, Brazil’s Sports Minister.