Just as some forty French military athletes are about to take part in the Rio Olympic Games (see yesterday’s article), another “sports” competition is taking place on the other side of the globe. Replace muscles with weapons and stadiums with shooting ranges: welcome to the second edition of the “International Army Games”, organised by Russia. From 30 July until 13 August, some 3,000 soldiers from 19 different countries are competing in 23 events both on the ground in Alabino (west of Moscow), in the air (Ryazan south-east of Moscow), and in the waters of the Caspian and Black seas.
These Games might be seen as amusing in the West, given how much they recall the spirit of the Soviet era, but they makes sense to Moscow which sees in them a different way of showing off its military might apart from the Red Square parade. Of the 47 countries invited, including the United States, the only NATO member to have accepted is Greece which is taking part in the “sniper frontier” event. Germany and Austria (not a NATO member) are present simply as observers.
Apart from the traditional – and extremely kitch – tank biathlon, the range of ground events goes from the traditional, such as piloting armoured vehicles and crossing water, to the more original such as gunsmiths and field cooking.
We cannot resist giving you a few details of this cooking event, divided into three phases and bitterly contested between Russia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, China, Angola and Mongolia. Because the competitors are soldiers first and foremost, the five members of each team (a chef, two cooks and two bakers) first have to prove that they can shoot by attempting to hit a 0,75×0,75m target with an AK-47 automatic rifle. Once they’ve achieved that they start four days of real cooking and baking. “The quality of the cooked food is determined by organoleptic method: the inspection of the dish exterior, the definition of consistency, colour, taste and smell, and aesthetic design of ready dish,” according to the Games’ website. For the final event the participants must use their imaginations and be audacious in presenting a menu inspired by their national gastronomy. Worthy of “Master Chef” the jurors can give penalty points if, for example, the competitors run over time or do not respect hygiene rules.
If you’d like to know more about this colourful event, we invite you to click on the link of the International Army Games 2016, whose website is remarkably thorough.