Hail the Conquering Heroes

As we emerge from the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are looking for ways to entertain ourselves.  Hopefully, there will be much to choose from as organisers pick up where they left off before being stilled by a virus.  Among the many offerings, several superhero movies are set to open in cinemas this spring.  What you may not know is that real live superheroes will descend on The Hague this April and their feats of strength and courage will be open to the public.  

The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veteran. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country.  The Invictus Games will be held in The Hague from 16-22 April 2022 and invites 500 competitors, from 19 different countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Jordan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.  They will participate in 10 different sports: athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.  The tenth event will be the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, which is a test of skill and precision and is designed to test driving skills, navigational ability, observation and teamwork using Land Rover vehicles.  Some athletes will compete in more than one sport. 

The word ‘Invictus’ means ‘unconquered’.  It embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick service personnel and personifies what these tenacious men and women can achieve post-injury.  The Invictus Games are the brainchild of Prince Harry who was inspired by the Warrior Games which are sponsored by the United States Department of Defense. The Invictus Games were awarded to the Netherlands for 2020 but had to be rescheduled not once, but twice, due to the Corona virus pandemic.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, they will be open to spectators. 

The first edition of the Invictus Games was held in London in 2014.  Utilizing some of the infrastructure from the 2012 London Olympic Games, the competition featured some 300 athletes from 13 countries.  Since the inaugural games, the event has been hosted by Orlando, Toronto and Sydney.  Dusseldorf, Germany, was originally slated to host a 2022 version of the games but the pandemic-delayed games at The Hague had a knock-on effect, moving the event in North Rhein Westphalia to 2023.  In April 2021, it was announced that “Heart of Invictus”, a Netflix documentary series would surround the competitors from the 2022 Invictus Games.  Prince Harry will executive produce the series and appear on camera.

The participants all have their own story of physical and/or psychological injury or illness.  Nonetheless, all of them have found the inner strength to go on and reinvent themselves – sometimes alone, often with the help of family and friends, but always through the power of sport. These games, to be played in the political capital of the Netherlands, endured two postponements due to Corona which most certainly presented the participants with yet another challenge.  When the games open on April 16, the athletes will once again have a platform to share their stories and add another chapter to their book of life.

The games will take place at the Zuiderpark sports complex which will be renamed “The Invictus Games Park” during the week of the event.  The Zuiderpark offers a compact, all-in-one location for the event.  In addition to the competitions, there will be a full entertainment program including music, demonstrations by the Dutch Armed Forces and other side events.  Tickets are very affordable and the cycling events, a time trial and criterium, are open to all, free of charge. They will be ridden on a parcours encircling the park and a tribune as well as several public viewing area along the route will be offered. 

If you attend one sporting event this year, this would be the one to see.  It would be hard to imagine a more meaningful family outing than a visit to these Invictus Games.  If the wheelchair basketball final is anywhere close to that of the Toronto games in 2017, it will be shear spectacle. Then, the Dutch team, paced by a performance for the ages by Marc van de Kuilen, nearly upended the heavily favored American side.  No matter what the result, the opportunity to honor these remarkable men and women is something none of us should pass up.  Consider this a fervent plea to turn out in numbers and support the Dutch, your home country or any one of the true heroes who will come to The Hague this April.  

For more information, visit the official website: