Everyone knows that COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, but Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said the virus might have come from US military personnel who took part in the Military World Games in the city in October last year. The US government has sternly refuted this accusation, and it is easy to see who is right and who is wrong.
Interestingly, this has brought the Military World Games to the attention of many Taiwanese for the first time.
The Games, which are organized by the International Military Sports Council, have been called the “Olympics for the military.”
They were first held in September 1995 in Rome, with 4,017 participants from 93 countries.
The Games allow each country’s armed forces to present a peacetime image. They have been hailed as the most significant celebration of peace in world military history.
From 1995 on, the Games have been held once every four years. Along with conventional sports and military-related events such as parachuting, orienteering and cross-country races, they also include three special events: military, aeronautical and naval pentathlons.
The 17th Military World Games in Wuhan involved more than 9,300 participants from 109 countries. There were 329 events in 27 sports.
Unfortunately the Games were marred when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) orienteering team were disqualified for cheating.
When Taiwanese athletes excel in international military sports events, it generates a lot of excitement in the nation. In 2010, Taiwanese soldiers competed at the International Sniper Competition in the US.
They showed how capable Taiwan’s special forces are by placing second in the nighttime 8km race with full equipment and fourth in the M82A1 large-caliber sniper rifle shooting event.
In 2018, former seaman first class Su Chi-lin (蘇祈麟) of the Republic of China (ROC) Navy Honor Guard represented Taiwan at the World Drill Championships in the US, where he performed difficult moves such as wearing a blindfold and tossing his rifle and catching it behind his back. Lin won a special prize as a Taiwanese for making the event more diverse.
The ROC military’s main peacetime role is disaster relief. This makes it hard for military personnel to gain a sense of achievement from their combat training, no matter how skilled they are.
The Ministry of National Defense should strive to send a team to the Military World Games, where the nation’s military personnel would have an opportunity to compete and communicate with their peers from other nations.
This would encourage military personnel to devote themselves to their combat preparedness training and demonstrate Taiwan’s military mettle, as well as reminding the world that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation.
Taiwan’s international situation would indeed make it difficult for it to take part in the Games, but look how determined the Ministry of Health and Welfare is to see Taiwan join the WHO.
The defense ministry should not lag behind other government bodies in defending national sovereignty.
Hopefully, the day will come when Taiwan’s military personnel can show their prowess at the Military World Games, and maybe even beat the cheating PLA.
That would bring glory to the defense ministry and all of Taiwan.
Yang Fu-yung is a staff member at a university.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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