For the special section on Military Sports, we had the pleasure of talking to David Vandenplas, CISM Media and Communication Director & International Federations Coordinator.
- What is the role of CISM and how does it interact with each single participating nation?
I would like to start explaining the role of CISM talking about its mission and vision. CISM mission: “endorsing friendship amongst soldiers, CISM is the worldwide international military sport organization devoted to bringing together armed forces personnel from all nations through sports activities, thus enabling the physical training, military readiness and education for the armed forces”. CISM vision: “CISM is the world leading military sports organization enhancing mutual respect, solidarity and promoting peace through its various activities”.
Five founding nations – Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – created CISM while meeting in Nice at a fencing event on 18 February 1948. Although they were only European countries, CISM founding nations did have a global project in mind. This desire among the military to meet in sports arenas instead of battlegrounds was nothing new in 1948. Since its foundation in 1948, CISM’s universality became increasing real, developed as it was by the Presidents and Secretaries General who led the organisation over the years. The International Military Sports Council (CISM) is one of the largest multidisciplinary organizations in the world. CISM organize various sporting events for the armed forces of its 140 member countries and is one of the global sports organizations in which the largest number of disciplines is represented. Soldiers, who may previously have met on the battlefield, now meet in friendship on the sports playing field. This is in accordance with the philosophy and the ideals which were set in CISM’s mission statement in 1998, signed by all the member countries. Numerous worldwide, continental and regional activities take place throughout 300 days of the year. The two pillars of CISM which function as the basis for these events are sport and solidarity.
CISM has become a stakeholder which can no longer be ignored by the international sports community. It plays an important role in training elite athletes. A true pioneer in international sports solidarity, CISM has implemented projects organized in conjunction with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and organisations such as United Nations and the European Community. We have developed a close working relationship with national and international federations and with all international sports authorities.
- The IOC has its own Olympic Charter that each participant nation should respect. Is there an equivalent document for the CISM?
CISM has its own Regulations and Guidelines that each Member Nation should respect. CISM is also working with the International Federations regarding the sports regulations
- How is CISM reorganizing its activities during the Covid-related situation? Is CISM providing any kind of support to the single nations?
CISM cancelled all its sports and institutional events for the year 2020. Nevertheless, despite a complicated situation, CISM managed to organize its very first General Assembly by videoconference. CISM is constantly in contact with its Member Nations to check the evolution of the situation related to the COVID-19 Pandemic in each Member Nation.
- Major-General Gianni Gola is Honorary President and Ambassador of CISM: can you tell us something about him, his impact on CISM development and his current activities?
Major General Gola, 64, is a distinguished member of the Olympic and sports family. President of the International Military Sports Council since 1998, he has also been a member of the Olympic Truce Foundation since 2000 and member of the International Olympic Committee’s ‘Sports for All Commission’ since 2003. Passionate about sport and an athlete himself (he holds an Italian junior record in hammer-throw), Major General Gola got involved in CISM activities early in his military career in 1965. He has held many positions within CISM, notably Chief of the Italian Mission (1972-1995), Executive Director of the 1st Military World Games (1995) and Vice-President for Europe (1996-1998), before becoming President in 1998. Under the leadership of Major General Gola, the International Military Sports Council has become a key player for peace through sport in the world. The organisation operates in areas of conflict and post-conflict by using sport and sporting events as vehicles for reconciliation between different armed forces and a mechanism to improve relations between armed forces and civilian populations.
The title of CISM Ambassador is awarded to any person who has distinguished him/herself by promoting CISM values and ideals. As a CISM Ambassador, Major General Gianni Gola has committed to contribute to the promotion and advancement of the CISM cause. The duties and responsibilities of a CISM Ambassador consist primarily of assisting and strengthening CISM’s public relations efforts and acting as a liaison for CISM issues. CISM Ambassadors may also be assigned specific tasks and have the right to offer advice to the Board of Directors. CISM Ambassadors are appointed for life.