China launched the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan City, central China’s Hubei Province, on Friday evening with a dazzling ceremony showcasing the nation’s ancient civilization and an offer of friendship to the world.
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced the opening of the 7th International Military Sports Council (CISM) Military World Games.
In a stadium seating nearly 60,000 spectators in the Wuhan Sports Center, the opening ceremony started with the parade of 109 delegations amid huge cheers. The biggest roar from the crowd was reserved for the 553-strong Chinese team, led by flag bearer and retired professional basketball player, Wang Zhizhi.
Over the next nine days, A record 9,308 military sportspeople, including 67 world and Olympic champions, will compete in 27 events for 329 gold medals, under the motto of “Share friendship, build up peace.”
Apart from the thrills of the more common Olympic sports such as football, swimming and basketball, the Military World Games feature competitions in parachuting, aeronautical and military pentathlon, offering the spectators a new and exhilarating experience.
When all the athletes gathered in the center of the stadium, the Band played the national anthem of China and the International Military Sports Council anthem, followed by the hoisting of the national flag of China and the flag of the International Military Sports Council.
Xu Qiliang, chairman of the 2019 Military World Games organizing committee and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, extended a warm welcome to athletes, coaches and guests.
Herve Piccirillo, president of CISM, said in French in his speech that he was filled with joy, pride and hope seeing delegations rally in Wuhan under the banner of CISM.
President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said in a recorded video that a great example of the power of sport to bring all people in peaceful competition was set by having the best athletes from the armed forces of over 100 countries come together in friendship and respect.
Yuan Xinyue, who is a member of the World Cup-winning Chinese women’s volleyball team and has played for the PLA team, Bayi, since 2014, took an oath on behalf of all competitors at the Military World Games.
Afterwards, those inside the stadium were treated to a 50-minute extravaganza entitled the “Torch of Peace,” which involved thousands of performers, large-scale projection and LED technologies, and a football pitch-turned three-dimensional stage.
The show celebrated some of China’s greatest ancient military theories – Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, the philosophy of harmony and unity and the Thirty-Six Stratagems – as well as its ancient art, the Great Wall and the Silk Road.
It continued with a focus on unity in the modern world, displaying achievements of China’s armed forces in military reforms as well as the Belt and Road Initiative which links the world. It also championed the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Performers included famous pianist Lang Lang, Hong Kong-born action film star, Jackie Chan and American-born Chinese singer, Leehom Wang.
At the end of the opening ceremony that lasted for about two and a half hours, six bearers relayed the torch before retired basketball player, Liu Yudong, China’s flag bearer at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics, lit the cauldron.
The six others were Olympic table tennis champion Wang Hao, deputy captain of the PLA Bayi shooting team Jin Yongde, pentathlon athlete, Wang Tanglin, Olympic butterfly stroke gold medalist, Jiao Liuyang, volleyball player, Yang Junjing and the Wuhan-born footballer, Wang Shuang.
The 7th Military World Games will last from Oct. 18-27. Participating were nearly 10,000 athletes from 109 countries. The Games has been held every four years since 1995.
The Military World Games, known as the Olympic Games for the military, is the top multi-sport event for military personnel from across the globe.
First held in 1995 in Rome of Italy, the Military World Games is a quadrennial event organized by CISM.