Prince Harry will officially kick off the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday. The Paralympic-style sporting event for wounded soldiers will take over the city from Sept. 23 – 30. This is Harry’s third instalment of the event, after successful tournaments in London and Orlando.
The 32-year-old has been dedicated to raising awareness for veterans since he retired from the army in 2015. Much of his charitable work has centered around improving the mental and physical health of those who fought for their countries. The Invictus Games are one way in which the royal hopes to inspire service men and women around the world to conquer any challenges they face following their time in the armed forces. Read on to discover more about the sporting event and why Prince Harry wants you to pay attention to its incredible athletes.
What are the Invictus Games?
Prince Harry was inspired to create the Invictus Games after attending the Warrior Games in the US back in 2013. While there, the royal watched wounded service men and women show off their strength while playing a series of sports. Being that the UK didn't have a similar program, Harry decided to spearhead an international version of the sporting tournament. The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in the fall of 2014.
Harry describes the event as follows: "These Games shine a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families. They highlight the competitors’ “INVICTUS GAMES spirit.” These Games have been about seeing competitors sprinting for the finish line with everything they have and then turning around to clap the last person in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together. These Games have been a display of the very best of the human spirit."
Who participates in the tournament?
Invictus Games Toronto will see 550 athletes from 17 nations compete in 12 sports. Countries being represented include: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the US.
Why did Prince Harry choose Toronto to host this year's event?
Early last year, Prince Harry made the exciting announcement that he was bringing the Games to Toronto in Sept 2017. In a taped video message, the royal explained why Canada was the perfect place to host this year's competition. "2017 is a year steeped in rich Canadian military history, marking the anniversaries of historic battles that shaped and defined the nation. It's also the year when Canada will commemorate it's 150th year of Confederation," he said. "I cannot think of a better way to mark this milestone than by paying tribute to the soldiers and veterans who have served their country so bravely."
Who is performing during the opening and closing ceremonies?
The royal has recruited some top Canadian talent to participate in the Games' opening and closing ceremonies. Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara, The Tenors and La Bottine Souriante will headline the kick off the tournament on Sept 23 and Kelly Clarkson, Bryan Adams Bachman & Turner and Coeur de Pirate will wrap up the festivities on Sept 30.
It was also recently announced that Toronto native Mike Myers will serve as ambassador to the games.
For more information about Invictus Games Toronto and to find out how you can buy tickets, visit invictusgames2017.com.