The Hague – With three days of competition still to go, the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 presented by Jaguar Land Rover can already be called a success. The Zuiderpark has been buzzing since Saturday. During the Easter weekend and this Tuesday, between 7,000 and 8,000 daily visitors came to the sports event for wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.
The atmosphere during the event was praised by the 17 participating nations as well as the visitors. The camaraderie, which is of great importance among military personnel, is experienced by all. Also the schoolchildren – a program for 400 schoolchildren is planned daily – greatly appreciate the mix of education and entertainment.
The smashing opening ceremony in a full hall with 5,000 spectators on Saturday was greatly appreciated by the 500 competitors, their family & friends, guests and supporters. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday the competitors competed for sporting glory in great camaraderie. The personal goals of each competitor were paramount; winning was not the most important thing. Many of the servicemen and women have been injured during missions or have suffered mental injury.
US Invictus Games-competitor Andrew Holliday: “This is my first Invictus Games. The atmosphere is beautiful and the camaraderie great. All countries put their arms around each other, regardless of the score. Just to support each other. I think that’s my favorite aspect.”
The Invictus Games were created by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, to encourage recovery through sport, support rehabilitation and generate wider understanding and respect for wounded soldiers and veterans.
Lisa Johnston, from Team UK: “We’ve been looking forward to this for a really long time, three long years. But it was worth the wait, because the reception in The Hague has been heartwarming. I am also pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make contact with participants from other countries, despite the language barrier that is sometimes present. That is really very inspiring.”
Full of activities
The Zuiderpark is ready to receive more visitors in the coming days. They can enter the park for free, where many activities with a military or sporting link are in display. There are limited tickets available for the various sports. A lot of the times, the competitors competed in front of packed stands cheering them on. The swimming series and finals, for example, had been sold out for weeks.
The competitions in archery, athletics, sitting volleyball and swimming have been completed. In the coming days, competitions in indoor rowing (Wednesday), wheelchair rugby (finals, Wednesday), powerlifting (Thursday), wheelchair basketball (Thursday and Friday) and cycling (Friday) are still scheduled. Friday night is the closing ceremony. DI-RECT, ambassador of this edition of the Invictus Games, will perform during the closing. The band from The Hague also close the competition days in the Invictus Park Stadium each time in the coming evenings.
A large number of dignitaries, both from military, political and royal circles, visited the Invictus Games in recent days. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will attend the finals of the indoor rowing event on Wednesday morning and present the medals. His Majesty King Willem-Alexander will attend the finals of the wheelchair basketball tournament on Friday afternoon. In the evening the King will meet the Dutch competitors of the Invictus team. Afterwards, he will attend the closing ceremony. Minister Ollongren of Defense is also present. The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, and the Commander of the Armed Forces, General Eichelsheim, both gave speeches during the closing ceremony.
A lot of attention
The viewing figures of the daily programs at the NOS and BBC are high. The opening ceremony drew 1.5 million viewers on Dutch television. At the BBC, 1.9 million people tuned in to the first broadcasts. Online, on Twitter and Instagram and the website, the event is followed by a huge crowd, especially from Commonwealth countries and the United States.
The Invictus Games are in their fifth edition in The Hague. Previously London, Orlando, Toronto and Sydney were the cities. Due to the corona pandemic, the Invictus Games, which were initially scheduled to take place in The Hague in 2020, were postponed twice.