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. Indeed, just after the First World War, the first Interallied Games were organised upon the initiative of General Pershing and his entourage with 18 nations representing five continents. In 1919, 1500 athletes competed in 24 different sports in front of a large audience in Joinville in the Paris suburbs.
Following the Second World War, the Allied Forces Sports Council was revived. The second Interallied Games were held in Berlin in 1946. Only athletics competitions were organised. The desire to meet among soldiers was stronger than the need to produce striking sports achievements at all costs. On May 1946, the Allied Forces Sports Council was set up, namely by Colonel Debrus and Major Mollet who were among the founding fathers of CISM two years later. Unfortunately, because of political discord, the Allied Forces Sports Council was extinguished in 1947. However, the ideal was rekindled the following year with the founding of CISM and the rise of a global vision.
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. In 1950, Argentina and Egypt joined the –by then – nine European countries. In 1951, it was the USA’s turn to join. In 1952, Iraq, the Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria became members and in 1954 Brazil.
Over the years, membership has progressed at a steady pace. The emergence of Cold War and the setting up of SKDA- a military sports organisation whose member nations were also members of the Warsaw Pact-denied CISM the official universal status it wantcraved and needed to be recognized by the IOC. But the political turnoil at the end of the 80’s and more specifically the fall of the Berlin wall all of a sudden gave renewed impetus to CISM’expansion . In the space of just four years (1991-1995), 31 new member countries joined the organisation.
Such rapid progress led to recognition by international institutions as the IOC.
Another important event in CISM history occurred in September 1995 with the organisation of the 1st Military World Games in Rome. CISM has become, with its 133 member nations, its annual world, continental and regional sports calendar, the high level of its competitors (The International Military Sports Council can no longer keep track of the countless world and continental champions who are also renowned for their exploits within civilian competition), one of the biggest sports institution in the world.
Since 1995, CISM has organized every four years the Military World Games, a multi-sport event held one year before the year the Olympic Games are organized.
The 1st Military World Games 1995 Military World Games was held in Rome from 4 to 16 September 1995; 93 nations competed in 17 different sporting events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the second World War and of the ratification of the United Nations Organization Charter.
In 1999, the 2nd Military World Games 1999 Military World Games was held in August 1999 in Zagreb, Croatia; 7000 participants from 82 nations competed in 20 sports.
In 2003, the 3rd Military World Games 2003 Military World Games was held in December 2003 in Catania, Italy; Participants from 84 different nations competed in 13 sports.
In 2007, the 4th Military World Games 2007 Military World Games was held in October 2007 in Hyderabad, India; Participants from 101 countries competed in 14 sports.
In 2011, the 5th Military World Games 2011 Military World Games was held in July 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Participants from 108 countries competed in 20 sports. Brazil topped the medal table with 45 gold, 33 silver and 36 bronze. China was the second with 37 gold, 28 silver and 34 bronze. Italy captured 14 gold, 13 silver and 24 bronze to round out the top three.
In 2015, the 6th Military World Games 2015 Military World Games was held in October 2015 in Mungyeong, Korea; Participants from 105 countries, more 15 as observer, competed in 24 sports, including five military sports. Russia topped the medal table with 59 gold, 43 silver and 33 bronze. Brazil was the second with 34 gold, 26 silver and 24 bronze. China captured 32 gold, 31 silver and 35 bronze to round out the top three.
In 2019, the edition of the 7th CISM World Games will take place in Wuhan, China.