The Invictus Games in The Hague capture hearts
After a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games can finally begin. From 16 to 22 April we will be honouring 500 athletes from 20 countries at the Invictus Games in The Hague. Win or lose, these sportsmen and women are an inspiration to us all.
The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for service personnel and veterans who have been physically or mentally injured in the line of duty. Despite their disabilities, they are eager and able to compete at a high level. The Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.
The first event took place in London in 2014, followed by Orlando, Toronto, Sydney and now The Hague. The Duke of Sussex (Prince Harry), who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, founded the Invictus Games and will be in attendance.
According to the mayor of The Hague Jan van Zanen, this initiative is consistent with Dutch values:
‘The Invictus Games are a tribute to all veterans who have dedicated themselves to the values that we hold dear in The Hague: peace and justice. At this time, it is especially fitting that we show our appreciation and gratitude.’
The word ‘invictus’ means ‘unconquered’ and embodies the fighting spirit and positive approach to life of physically and mentally injured service personnel. It personifies what these men and women can accomplish in spite of their injuries. It’s not about winning medals but about achieving personal goals.
The Invictus Games are about much more than just sport. They capture hearts, challenge minds and change lives. The athletes are heroes who have paid a high price for their commitment to peace and security. They each have their own story about their physical injury or mental illness. But they have all found the strength to carry on and the motivation to push their boundaries. The Invictus Games are a tribute to the veterans who have served the cause of peace and justice in the world.
Teams from Afghanistan, Belgium, Canada, Iraq and other countries will take part in ten different sports in The Hague. Dutch service personnel will also be participating. Although the Games are now finally getting under way after a two-year delay due to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine – one of the participating countries – is casting a shadow over the event. The Ukrainian team recently lost one of its members in the war.
The injuries that service personnel suffer are not always visible. There are also competitors who have sustained mental injuries in the line of duty. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, people realised how quickly their lives can be turned upside down, causing the things we all take for granted to disappear. This kind of upheaval can have a negative impact on people’s mental health, but sport offers a way to rebuild confidence in the future.
The Invictus Games are about inspiring recovery and growth among the competitors. It is also important to create acceptance and support in the world. The Invictus Games offer an opportunity to show what sport can mean to wounded servicemen and women. The Games are well-known among veterans and service personnel but the event is also gaining in popularity among the general public. Friends and relatives of the athletes attend the Games too. Their role in recovery process after an injury or illness deserves recognition.