By Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS
Hyderabad : The World Military Games (WMG) to be held here in October will not only promote friendship between armies that might otherwise be adversarial but also provide a huge marketing opportunity for sponsors, an official involved with the event says.
The biggest-ever sporting event in India will be held here Oct 14-21 this year.
At a time when there is so much unrest in the world, the WMG, conducted with the motto of 'Friendship Through Sports', will make armies play instead of fighting each other. The organisers said that the games would give armies a chance to compete on friendly grounds.
Being next only to the Olympics in terms of size and participation, the Games also offer huge business opportunities for corporate houses in India and abroad.
Several top international brands are expected to come forward to sponsor the games, which are expected to generate huge interest in over 100 participating countries.
Over 4,500 athletes, including over 100 Olympic medal winners, will be taking part in 14 sports disciplines.
All the athletic and field events will be held in Hyderabad while sailing and triathlon will be held in Mumbai. Besides the common sports disciplines, two new disciplines like para jumping and triathlon will be witnessed for the first time in India.
"World Military Games, besides being the biggest sports event, embodies the spirit of brotherhood and strength. This is a golden business opportunity for corporate houses and a wonderful chance for all Indians to be a part of a sporting event of international standards," Lt Gen Ashok Kapoor, chief of staff of the Southern Command and WMG director general, told IANS.
The Indian Army has tied up with Mumbai-based marketing agency Media Centre to market the games. Media Centre hopes the games would give much-needed boost to sports other than cricket in India.
"After the cricket World Cup debacle, many companies are looking to sponsor other games. The military games will provide the right platform for firms keen to move beyond cricket," Ajay David, the chief executive officer of Media Centre, told IANS.
He said that at a time when the country was obsessed with cricket, the military games would go a long way in encouraging other sports and sportspersons in India.
David wants India to follow in the footsteps of Australians.
"Australians have been the world champions in cricket for over a decade but they have heroes in several other disciplines like track and field and swimming. It is easy to find sponsors for other sports in that country," he said.
David hopes that things would change in India as companies are now looking forward to sponsor other sportspersons.
"Take for instance Sania Mirza. Even her entry into top 50 players in the world saw sponsors scrambling to sign her," he said.
Media Centre is holding negotiations with prospective sponsors. "We are talking to 12 to 15 serious sponsors. They are big names at the international level. We hope to rope in some top brands," David added.
The sponsorship money is expected to be Rs.500-700 million. There will be one lead sponsor, four co-sponsors, five associate sponsors and various category sponsors. The lead and co-sponsors are likely to be finalized by July end.
Since this is one of the rare occasions when sportspersons from countries like the US, Australia, China, and Japan, as also the European Union, will participate in an event in India, there is a tremendous marketing potential.
"Sponsors would like to reach out to these countries. World Military Games are high quality, serious games and 35 percent of the participants in these games are Olympic medallists," said David.
This is the first time the games are being hosted by an Asian country. The International Council of Military Sports (CISM) conducts the sporting event once in four years.
The first edition was in 1995 at Rome, and subsequent editions were held in Zagreb (Croatia) in 1999 and Catania (Italy) in 2003.