The Military World Games

Updated: January 4, 2024
In this Article

    The Military World Games is run by the International Military Sports Council (IMSC). The event is organized without political or sectarian motives and is held in the interest of advancing peace.

    IMSC, which is known as Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) outside of the United States, was created in 1948 by five founding nations: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

    While the founding members of IMSC are based in Europe, the intent from the start was to establish an international competition that could bring nations together through sport rather than clashing on the battlefield.

    Below is a look at the 2019 World Games that took place in Wuhan, China.

    How the Military World Games Were Started

    The story of the Military World Games is closely tied with the evolution of IMSC. Before 1948, something called the Interallied Games were held in Paris, France, in 1919. This event saw 1,500 international athletes from 18 countries competing, with a second such event held again decades later in Berlin, Germany, in 1946. In May of that same year, the Allied Forces Sports Council was organized but disbanded in 1947.

    The idea of an international sports competition focused solely on sports and not politics or sectarian concerns was powerful enough to inspire the IMSC in 1948, started by five European nations (see above). By 1951, three other continents were represented, as Argentina, Egypt and the United States all became members. The following year, other nations, including Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Lebanon also joined.

    At the height of the Cold War, some Warsaw Pact member nations joined a rival organization, the Allied Armies Sports Committee. Decades later, in 1991, these two organizations merged.

    Before 1995, IMSC organized as many as twenty world championship events for individual sports each year. After 1995, the Military World Games is scheduled every four years as a multi-sport event.

    The very first of the IMSC games honored the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and the establishment of the United Nations Charter.

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    Military World Games: Summer and Winter Editions

    The Military World Games are held as summer and winter events, similar to the Olympics. Locations for the summer games have included:

    Locations for the winter Military World Games have included:

    • Sochi, Russia, 2017
    • Annecy, France 2013
    • Aosta Valley, Italy, 2010

    Military World Games Competitions

    The types of sporting events open to competitors in the Military World Games have included:

    • Alpine skiing
    • Archery
    • Basketball
    • Biathlon
    • Cross-country skiing
    • Cycling
    • Football/soccer
    • Golf
    • Indoor climbing
    • Judo
    • Marathon
    • Modern pentathlon
    • Parachuting
    • Sailing
    • Shooting
    • Short track
    • Ski orienteering
    • Taekwondo
    • Track and field
    • Triathlon
    • Wrestling

    Military World Games: A Selected Timeline

    • 1995 Military World Games: Rome, Italy. More than 90 nations competed in 17 scheduled sporting events.
    • 1999 Military World Games: Zagreb, Croatia. 82 nations, 20 events and 7,000 participants competed.
    • 2003 Military World Games: Catania, Italy. Athletes from 84 nations gathered to compete in 13 different sporting events.
    • 2007 Military World Games: Hyderabad, India. Featured 101 countries competing in 14 sports.
    • 2011 Military World Games: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 108 countries competed in 20 sports.
    • 2015 Military World Games: Mungyeong, Korea. 105 countries competed in 24 sports, including five military sports.
    • 2019 Military World Games: Wuhan, China. Nearly 10,000 participants from more than 100 countries competed in 27 sporting events.
    • 2022 Military World Games: Berchtesgaden and Ruhpolding, Germany. Cancelled.
    • 2023 Military World Games: Bogota, Colombia.

    Who Is Eligible to Compete in the Military World Games

    The sport-specific requirements to compete in the Military World Games depend on the sport, the current level of world-class standards athletes must meet to take part and current benchmarks for qualifying beyond the preliminary rounds.

    Participation requires active military service or membership in the National Guard or Reserves. In all cases, the athletes must serve in an active status.

    Service members interested in becoming part of a U.S. Armed Forces team with the goal of competing at the Military World Games level must apply via their branch of military service’s sports office. You can find your branch of service’s sports office via the DoD Armed Forces Sports official site.

    Written by Team