China gears up to host athletes from over 100 nations at military games in Wuhan

China is gearing up for another mega sporting event after successfully hosting the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Hubei province capital Wuhan set to welcome military athletes from over 100 countries, including India, for the military world games in October.

Preparations are almost complete for the 7th CISM Military World Games to be held from October 18 to 27 in this “city of hundred lakes” which had hit headlines last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit here to boost bilateral ties.

The Military World Games, also known as the ‘Olympics for the military people’, is the highest-standard multi-sport event for soldiers from across the globe.

The construction work on 35 venues of the games is complete, 20 of 38 preview events have been held and more than 200,000 volunteers are set to take part in making sure the global event runs smoothly, officials said.

The International Military Sports Council (IMSC) or Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM), headquartered in Brussels, has hosted the Military World Games every four years since 1995. In May 2015, China, as a member state of CISM, won the bid to host this year’s Games with Wuhan named host city.

It is the first time for the games to be held outside military barracks, supported by the national government, co-organised by the military and the local authorities, Zhang Shihua, Vice President of the Executive Commission of the 7th CISM Military World Games, told a group of visiting journalists.

All competition events are going to take place in one city and the total number of competition events has hit a record high, he said.

According to the organisers, some 10,000 military athletes from over 100 countries will compete across 27 sports, such as aeronautical pentathlon, military pentathlon, naval pentathlon and parachuting, as well as Olympic sports such as football, equestrian, swimming and basketball.

On August 1, the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the torch of the games will be lit in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, and be carried through Chinese regions and army sites by torch bearers. The torch will arrive at the main venue of the games in Wuhan on October 18.

An Indian delegation will also participate in the games with Indian soldiers gearing up in various disciplines to win medals for the country. The members of the Indian delegations will be named soon.

Delegations from Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands and Oman have also visited to inspect preparations, and have expressed satisfaction with the progress.

The athletes’ village has been built beside a wetland park and consists of about 2,000 apartments — each of them with a capacity to house four to seven people — and comprising two restrooms, one living room and a kitchen.

The mascot of the games is ‘Bingbing’ — a Chinese sturgeon found in the Yangtze River basin, while the slogan of the games is “Military Glory, World Peace”.

In the past, the games have been held in countries such as India, Italy, Croatia, Brazil and South Korea.

The 2007 military world games were held in the twin-cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad from October 14 21, 2007. Some parts of the games were also held in Mumbai. About 5,000 athletes from 101 countries had participated in that event.

Wuhan, that will play host to the games this year, is one of China’s most picturesque cities with 165 rivers, 166 lakes, and 6 national wetland parks.

The third biggest river in the world, Yangtze, and its biggest tributary, Han, join here.

Wuhan consists of three towns, namely Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang, covering an area of more than 8,500 square kilometers, with more than 11 million population.

Wuhan has more university students than any other city in the world, with over 1 million university students in one city, officials said.

The city also has several scenic spots with the Yellow Crane Tower being of great cultural significance. It was first built in 223 AD, but over the centuries, the tower had been destroyed many times by war. However, its popularity with the Chinese people ensured that it was always rebuilt.