6,000 athletes for 2007 Hyderabad World Military Games

Held every 4 years under the aegis of the Brussels based International Military Sports Council, the first edition was conducted in Rome in 1995.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 20:15 IST

Six thousand athletes from 100 countries - the largest in any sporting event outside the Olympics - will participate in the fourth edition of the World Military Games (WMG) at Hyderabad Oct 14-21, 2007, the biggest such extravaganza India has ever hosted.

This is also the first time the event is being staged in Asia.

"This is a very serious event. At least 25 per cent of the participants are medal winners at the Olympics," Brigadier S. Dangwal, chairman of the games technical conduct committee, said at a press conferenceafter which the mascot and logo for the games was unveiled at a ceremony conducted with perfect military precision.

On its part, India will be fielding a contingent that includes 15 medal winners at the just-concluded Doha Asian Games.

Fifteen disciplines will feature at the WMG, being held under the banner of "Friendship Through Sports". These include traditional Olympics' events like athletics, swimming, shooting, hockey and sailing, as also a military-specific parachuting competition.

"We hope to win medals in shooting, wrestling, boxing, parachuting and sailing," Dangwal said when asked about India's prospects at the event.

"The WMG is the perfect stepping stone to the Commonwealth Games (India will host in 2010)," said Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju.

"We have created perfect synergy between the WMG secretariat (that is staging the Rs 1.6 billion event) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA that will conduct the Commonwealth Games) to ensure both of us gain from the experience," Dangwal added.

Held every four years under the aegis of the Brussels based International Military Sports Council, known by its French acronym CISM, the first edition was conducted in Rome in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Subsequent events were held at Zagreb (Croatia) in 1999 and at Catania (Italy) in 2003.

India, which joined CISM in 1999, bid for the WMG in 2003 and was awarded the games the next year.

The bulk of the events - athletics, swimming, boxing, hockey, volleyball, handball, kabaddi, football, wrestling, volleyball, shooting and judo will be staged at the Hyderabad facilities created for the 2003 Afro-Asian Games.

The parachuting event will be conducted at the Indian Air Force station in adjacent Dindugal, while the sailing event will be staged at Mumbai, where the Indian Navy conducted the 40th World Military Sailing Championship in October.

And, given the new "jointmanship" doctrine of the Indian armed forces, WMG will see some unique synergy between the army, the navy and the air force as the hosts not only attempt to grab a major share of the medals on offer but also bid for a variety of trophies on offer.

These include the CISM Fair Play Trophy, as also the CISM Solidarity Trophy that is awarded to the nation that has demonstrated "exceptional solidarity" with one or more CISM member nations.

Toward this, the armed forces have begun preparations in right earnest, identifying participants for the various disciplines and beginning their training in "specialised modes where state of the art infrastructure and coaches have been made available", Dangwal explained.

The five-petal logo of the WMG, in the Olympic colours, draws inspiration from the Indian lotus flower. The mascot, a stylised Indian bison, is named Bravo "due to its parallel and similar characteristics of the Indian armed forces", the army chief, Gen. J.J. Singh, explained.

India hosted the inaugural 1951 Asian Games and the eighth edition in 1982. Apart from the Commonwealth Games, the country also hopes to host the 2014 Asian Games and ultimately the Olympics in 2016 or 2020.

First Published: Dec 27, 2006 20:15 IST