Invictus Games to be rescheduled to 2021 in light of coronavirus pandemic

By Zach Harper

The Invictus Games Foundation has announced the 2020 instalment of the annual sports tournament will be rescheduled to next year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

In what must have been a difficult decision for its creator Prince Harry and all those involved, the team released statements on March 19 saying staging the games in The Hague this year "has become impossible" due to COVID-19. Organizers are now "investigating all options to reschedule" them, they said. All tickets will be refunded, and all competitors who were selected to participate will still receive medallions later this year.

"The decision [to cancel this year's games] was also taken in recognition of the anticipated strain on medical staff and the infrastructure required in dealing with the pandemic," remarks on the Invictus Games Foundation website read. "We did not wish to add to the complexity of the response, or increase the risk to those involved, by bringing together an international and potentially vulnerable audience.

Prince Harry speaks to soldiers training in a pool in Sydney in 2017 ahead of the 2018 Invictus Games. Photo: © WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

"All parties involved in organizing and participating in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, including the competitors and their loved ones, the volunteers, the organizers, partners, sponsors, and its suppliers, are all facing the current impact of the pandemic. As a result, the organization of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 has become impossible.

"Competitors from the 20 nations involved have been hard at work training for these Invictus Games as part of their recovery process. However, the safety and wellbeing of these wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women, and their friends and family, is paramount.

"We know that not holding the Invictus Games this May will be disappointing news to the whole Invictus family, and to all of those involved in the planning and delivery of the Games. We are very appreciative of the continued support of those who have been and continue to be involved in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, and we remain committed to the recovery of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women."

Harry started Invictus in 2014 as a way to help wounded and sick servicemembers recover. The first event took place in London. It has since been held in Orlando, Toronto and Sydney.

This represents another way the coronavirus has forced the Royal Family to cancel major events and change their plans already this year.

The Queen is seen leaving Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle on March 19. Photo: © Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Queen announced several cancellations and postponements to events on her calendar. She will not attend the Maundy Thursday service at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 9, and the Garden Parties she traditionally hosts at Buckingham Palace are off this year. Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit to the UK is also postponed. Her Majesty and Prince Philip have both been moved to Windsor Castle for the time being to begin an early Easter break, and it is likely they will stay there after the holiday, too.

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla were forced to postpone their tour of Cyprus and Jordan, which was to take place this week, along with the Duke of Cornwall's visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The future King remains committed as ever to his royal duties, and has been working remotely during this crisis.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi cancelled their wedding reception, which was to take place May 29 after their nuptials. They are still scheduled to be married that day, but are considering making the ceremony private, for close friends and family only.

Both Karl von Habsburg (left) and Prince Albert tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photos: © People Picture/Jens Hartmann/Shutterstock and Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

The positive tests of two members of European royal families this week show anyone, no matter who they are, can contract the novel coronavirus. Karl von Habsburg, the ancestral Archduke of Austria, was the first royal to reveal he has coronavirus. He has described the illness as "annoying" and said he is "fine" despite the health issue. He said he's listening to medical advice on how to recover. Prince Albert of Monaco revealed his diagnosis on March 19. The Prince's Place in Monaco says the 62-year-old is in good health and continues to work from home.

As of this writing, the World Health Organization says there have been more than 207,000 cases of COVID-19 reported in 166 countries. The illness has caused more than 8,600 deaths. On March 19, the death toll in Italy had surpassed that of China.

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