The Invictus Games The Hague 2020 presented by Jaguar Land Rover concluded Friday evening with a spectacular Closing Ceremony. The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, Founding Patron of the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, spoke of an “incredible week.”
The Duke assured the competitors that they don’t stand alone. “We are here with you. We don’t talk about what’s wrong with you, but what happened to you. Bottle the memory and feeling of this week. You have done it. You made your goals, made your family happy. And you leave stronger then you arrived.”
The closing ceremony was also attended by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. In the afternoon, he visited the final of the wheelchair basketball tournament between the Netherlands and the United States and met the Dutch delegation for the Invictus Games.
Mart de Kruif, chairman of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 organising committee, looks back with gratitude on the past week. “We are especially pleased that we have managed to focus on the participants of the Invictus Games and their Family & Friends. That was the starting point, and it's great that we were able to keep it up. That is precisely what has given us a lot of appreciation.”
The various team managers were very pleased with the past week in The Hague. Hannah Lawton (Team UK): “Due to the corona pandemic, we had to wait a long time for the Invictus Games to take place, but we had such a great time in The Hague. The competitors were at the centre of attention which did our team a lot of good, and made them feel like absolute stars. The fact that the Dutch organisation had chosen for a compact set-up, with everything together in one park, contributed to the success. It worked so well and I can’t wait to see how the next Invictus Games take on that challenge.”
Travis Claytor (Team USA): “We found The Hague to be the perfect setting, raising a new standard. This week, Team USA has witnessed quite a few of our competitors take important steps towards mental recovery in particular and for us, that is the big advantage of these Invictus Games. The camaraderie between the different countries was also great.”
The sun-drenched Zuiderpark was visited by almost a hundred thousand visitors last week, and the event attracted great interest from the media. With viewing figures on NOS and BBC for the Opening Ceremony reaching high numbers , the daily program on both channels was also well watched. This enabled the Netherlands and the world to once again become acquainted with the special character of the Invictus Games. The event is not about winning medals, but about the road to recovery. Many of them have suffered physical or mental trauma during service. The Invictus Games use the power of sport to help this group rediscover themselves.
Ever since the Opening Ceremony on Saturday 16 April, the atmosphere in the Zuiderpark, which has been renamed Invictus Games Park, has been unique. There was not only room for sports, but also for entertainment in the form of concerts and performances by various military orchestras, DI-RECT, Nick & Simon and Waylon.
A yellow bench was introduced during the Opening Ceremony. The intention is to have yellow benches all over the world where people can listen to each other's stories. It is healing when you find, or share, a listening ear. A lasting legacy of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 will be benches set up around the world, with supporting organisations already embracing the idea.
During the event, one of the Dutch Invictus Games participant, Ronald van Dort, presented an award to Sander de Bont, the colleague who saved his life in 2008 during a mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Mart de Kruif: “Such stories make the Invictus Games special, they touch everyone. When you see someone, after 12 dark years, stepping onto the field here, surrounded by his comrades, you know that this is much more than just a sporting event. I am especially proud of that.”
It was also announced in The Hague that the Invictus Games 2025 will be held in Vancouver and Whistler, in Canada. As the first ever Winter Hybrid Games, winter sports will also be added to the program for the first time.