New Clubhouse to Promote Military Partnership at Rio 2016 Olympics
By Dialogo March 18, 2016
During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this August, the leaders of Military delegations from 100 participating countries will have the opportunity to socialize and share their experiences at a clubhouse set up for the International Military Sports Council (CISM) on the grounds of the Air Force University (UNIFA) in the neighborhood of Campo dos Afonsos.
The clubhouse will have a media center for press conferences, meetings, and interviews with Military athletes from throughout the world, where officials will also report on the results of the Military Olympians and give them their awards and medals.
“The CISM Club will provide an opportunity to promote Military sports and camaraderie between countries represented in the Olympics and have athletes that come from their Armed Forces,” explained Army Colonel Walter Jander, executive manager of the Brazilian Military Sports Commission.
A meeting place
Officials will renovate UNIFA's clubhouse as part of a space “where Military athletes participating in the Olympic Games can get together to socialize, meet their team leaders, and where delegation leaders can view performances by their respective athletes,” stated Colonel Pedro Celso Gagliardi Palermo, vice president of the Air Force Sports Commission. Officials will host guests at the facility a week before the Games begin.
The CISM requests that all Olympic host countries share the cost of setting up the clubhouse facility. Brazilian authorities chose the UNIFA site because it is the closest Military facility to the competition venues. UNIFA, which is a Brazilian Air Force (FAB) training center, has modern facilities for track and field, volleyball, and numerous aquatic sports.
The agreement on the clubhouse facilities was signed at the beginning of February during the continental meeting of CISM of the Americas, which was held in Bávaro, Dominican Republic. Founded in 1948, the CISM, which has 134 member countries, is a transnational organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, that promotes sports within the Military.
The CISM Club will highlight the participation of Military athletes in the Olympics, Col. Gagliardi said. “We want to make a link here between winning a medal and the fact that the winners are in the Military, thus validating our contribution to the sports efforts in this country.”
“It will be very important to have such a large space in which to learn of other delegations’ participation and exchange information, knowledge, and build friendships, which is fundamental in competition,” said FAB 3rd Sergeant Bruno da Silveira Mendonça, who plays for Brazil's Field Hockey Team that will compete in Rio. “What is important is fair play among the participants, leaving any rivalries on the field or in the competition arena.”
It is important to have a club for Military athletes, one of the Sergeant's fellow athletes observed. “I think it’s very relevant to have a place where we can meet friends and share our experiences,” said FAB 3rd Sergeant Gideoni Rodrigues Monteiro, who recently became the first Brazilian in 24 years to qualify for the Olympics in Omnium track cycling.
The Ministry of Defense has set the goal of having around 100 Military athletes with ties to the Armed Forces (Navy, Army, and Air Force) qualify for the Olympic Games. The participation of service members in international sporting competitions has received official support since 2009, when the Military launched the High-Performance Athletes Program (PAAR, for its Portuguese acronym) – a partnership between the ministries of Defense and of Sports, with the goal of strengthening the Brazilian Military team in high-level athletic events.
At the 5th World Military Games held in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil earned a total of 114 medals in a field featuring 111 nations and 4,000 athletes. At the Pan-American Games in Toronto, Canada, this past June, 123 Brazilian Military athletes earned 67 medals, accounting for 48 percent of the country's total.
Forty-seven of the 93 athletes scheduled to compete for Brazil in the Olympics are service members participating in PAAR. The Military's goal is to win 10 medals, which would double the number of medals that Brazilian Armed Forces competitors won at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I think that Military athletes will have many chances to win a medal," Col. Gagliardi said. "I’d bet our strongest chances are in judo, swimming, sailing, and the modern pentathlon, both men’s and women’s.”