Annecy 2013: World Winter Games to celebrate peace and excellence in sports

On Wednesday 11 July, the hosts to the 2013 CISM World Winter Games held a general meeting to officially launch the Groupement d’Intérêt Public, the organization in charge of the event to take place 25 to 29 March 2013. This major international competition will welcome a great "corps of champions," nearly 1,000 competitors from 40 countries, including many of the world’s best athletes in their respective disciplines.

Event – The 2nd CISM World Winter Games will take place in March 2013 in Annecy, in the heart of the French Alps. A field of some 1,000 elite athletes is expected for the Games, which are being organized under the auspices of the International Military Sports Council (CISM), the third largest international sporting body (after the IOC and FIFA) with 133 member countries. These sporting champions, hailing from some 40 countries, will face stiff competition as they celebrate "friendship through sports," the official motto of the CISM, against the stunning backdrop of the Haute-Savoie between Lake Annecy and Chamonix Mont-Blanc.

The World Summer Games and World Winter Games are the biggest of all CISM competitions. They are held every four years, one year before the Olympic Games. The first World Summer Games took place in Rome in 1995, and the first winter version in 2010 in Italy’s Aosta Valley. The CISM announced its host selection for the second World Winter Games at its most recent general meeting, in Seoul on 12 May 2011, after considering both Annecy, France and Sotchi, Russia.

Governance – Project stakeholders gathered in Annecy on Wednesday 11 July to form the Groupement d’Intérêt Public (GIP), a legally constituted entity that will serve as the event’s organizing committee. General Jean-René Bachelet was officially appointed president of the GIP. A Savoyard at heart and by adoption, he spent his career in the military, assigned top-level responsibilities, after first serving at the Haute-Savoie military mountain school in Chamonix and heading the 27e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins in Annecy (a famous French mountain infantry). General Bachelet, who is also president of Association des Glières – Pour la mémoire de la Résistance, embodies the Haute-Savoie, including the region’s passionate connection with winter sports and long history of military institutions. Serving with him as vice president of the Annecy 2013 organizing committee is cross-country ski champion Vincent Vittoz.

A native of the Haute-Savoie skiing resort of La Clusaz, this top athlete is one of the most successful cross-country skiers of his generation. A former member of the French military ski team, he is famed for turning in France’s best-ever cross-country ski performance, winning the pursuit at the 2005 Nordic World Championships. Now a trainer for the FFS (Fédération française de ski) cross-country ski team, he is committed to ensuring that the athletes who arrive in Annecy for the 2013 World Winter Games enjoy the warmest of welcomes and the finest skiing conditions.

Structure of the GIP – The World Winter Games organizing committee is backed by the government (including France’s ministries of defense, youth, and sports) and all local public bodies. The Groupement d’Intérêt Public’s founding members include the French government, City of Annecy, Haute-Savoie General Council, French National Olympic Committee, and participating members, classified in 3 groups: associated municipalities, representatives from the Olympic and sports sectors, and representatives from the regional business community.

* Who makes up the GIP?

Founding members: the French government, City of Annecy, Haute-Savoie General Council, and French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF)

Participating members, classified in 3 groups:

Associated public bodies: Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Seynod, La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, the metropolitan community of Annecy, and SIPAS Representatives from the Olympic and sports sectors: French sports federations involved in the event Representatives from the regional business community: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haute-Savoie, Savoie Mont-Blanc Tourisme, UDOTSI (Union départementale des offices de tourisme), Domaines skiables de France, Syndicat professionnel des moniteurs de ski, and France Montagnes

Updates – Starting this fall, the organizing committee will be issuing regular updates on the World Games, including the venues (from Chamonix to Annecy, including Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, and Seynod), schedule of event and festivity times, and teams that are involved in preparing a warm welcome for this veritable "Corps of Champions."

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