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'Friendship and Comfort': Military Athletes from NATO Countries Compete in Sochi

© Sputnik / Nina Zotina / Go to the photo bankThe Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army performs at the opening ceremony of the 3rd CISM World Military Winter Games
The Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army performs at the opening ceremony of the 3rd CISM World Military Winter Games - Sputnik International
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The participation of athletes from NATO countries in the Third Winter Military Games in Sochi, organized by the International Military Sports Council (IMSC), is a tale-telling answer to the Western sanctions against Russia, Slovenian rock climber Maja Vidmar told Sputnik.

“I think that our visit here is sort of an affront to the anti-Russian sanctions. We are here, period. I like the atmosphere of friendship and comfort we are enjoying here,” Vidmar said, adding that it was already her fourth trip to Russia.

She believes that the competition’s motto “Friendship Through Sport” is really working.

The Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army performs at the opening ceremony of the 3rd CISM World Military Winter Games - Sputnik International
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“It is very important for us even though we all come from different armies and are supposed to be wary of each other. I have met with Russians during other tournaments, they are wonderful people,” Vidmar said.

“Russia is a big country and I believe that Slovenia and Russia should be friends. Slovenia is a small country, but I’m sure that we’ll only benefit from cooperating with Russia,” she noted.

Maja Vidmar heaped praise on the climbing wall that was built in Sochi for the Games.

“Overall, the tournament is very well organized,” she said.

More than 400 military athletes from over 40 countries are taking part in the Games in Sochi, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the opening of the 3rd CISM World Military Winter Games - Sputnik International
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Forty-four sets of medals are up for grabs in seven disciplines, which include ski mountaineering, sport climbing, cross country skiing, alpine skiing, biathlon, short track speed skating and ski orienteering.

The Third Winter Military Games are organized by the International Military Sports Council (CISM), a major sports organization ranked third after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International University Sports Federation.

Russia won the bid to host the games at the 70th CISM General Assembly in Kuwait in May 2015.

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