In this edition of the Invictus Games 20 countries participate. South Korea and Belgium were added as last. They would debut this week if the event would not have been postponed because of Covid-19. Iraq is one of the 14 countries that were invited for the very first edition, in London, in 2014. However, the Iraqis were not able to send a team at that time. That was no reason for the Invictus Games Foundation not to invite Iraq afterwards. In Orlando (2016) Iraq was still present, just like in Toronto (2017) and Sydney (2018).
By Edward Swier
It was not easy to arrange visas for those tournaments. The situation in Iraq is still not stable. It remained turbulent after years of war, and terrorist attacks are regularly carried out. The outbreak of Covid-19 also caused less stability in Baghdad in recent months. It was partly the reason why we were unable to interview one of the participants.
Iraq, however, looks back with great pleasure on previous participations, and will certainly look forward to the Invictus Games of 2021. For example, team manager Ali Al-Hashimi recorded in 2017 after the Invictus Games in Toronto that participation in Canada felt like “Christmas morning. There was so much attention and love for the wounded soldiers here. We’d never seen that before.”
Siraj Muneer, participant in the Invictus Games of Sydney, stressed in 2018 the importance of participation of soldiers from so many different countries. “We are all human beings. Politics does not affect the bond that has grown here between athletes from different countries. I took part in archery and considered all the other participants as my brothers. There is no difference between us. It doesn’t matter who wins, as long as we show that we can handle life. Sport has helped me to find myself again. I know people who, like me, lost two legs in the war, but are now sitting at home doing nothing. I just challenge myself, that makes me feel better.”
Ammar Jabbar was head of the Iraqi delegation in Australia. He stressed the importance for Iraq to participate in the Invictus Games. “It is important that we show ourselves to the world, that we show that we are not bowing to terrorism and are still there. That’s what we want to radiate with our athletes. We have a saying in Iraq: you are not disabled if you have a physical disability, you are disabled if you are short-sighted”.