The Return of the Invictus Games

The Invictus Games inspires recovery, supports rehabilitation, and generates a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. It deserves our attention, by Ryan Nixon.

 

The Invictus Games – a sporting event that truly inspires unity and personifies courage – got underway at the weekend, with the first full official day of sports on Sunday, garnering viewers from across the world.

The multi-sport event, set up by Prince Harry, is a Paralympic-style games in which wounded, injured or sick members of the armed forces and their associated veterans, take part in sports such as wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing and sitting volleyball.

The games, which this year are based in Toronto, Canada, have drawn widespread attention due to their somewhat unique nature. Due to the Olympic cycle, an event with disabled participants is already a scarce occurrence, but an event which features our armed forces makes the Invictus Games all the more admirable.

Despite all of the aforementioned, one has to wonder whether the Invictus Games are actually receiving the attention they deserve.

When it made its debut in 2014, the Games were a massive hit. The British public were riding a post-2012 Olympic high, and given that the inaugural Games were also hosted in London, it only furthered the popularity and success of them.

However, in 2016 there was very little coverage of them. The games were based in Orlando, Florida but despite promotional videos featuring the likes of the Queen and former US president Barack Obama, it just didn’t seem to grab people’s attention.

Undoubtedly, the Invictus Games are one of the most underappreciated sporting events on the calendar. It is a travesty that they are not talked about as much as they should be. Understandably though, it is difficult for these games to compete with their massive counterpart the Paralympics.

Money is not pumped into the Invictus Games like it is for the Olympics and obviously, having only been set up three years ago, they do not have the same amount of pedigree.

We should also wonder whether people actually care. Is it appealing enough? The Paralympics itself always seems to live in the shadows of the Olympics so that means, in turn, that the Invictus Games will then live in the shadows of them.

With this year’s events being based in Toronto though, hopes are high that it will become quite the talking point for viewers across the world. Prince Harry is an excellent advocate for the games and his likeable public image, along with his ‘are they, aren’t they’ relationship with actress Meghan Markle has massively helped raise awareness for the Invictus Games, as cliché as it sounds, with their first public appearance together at the opening ceremony proving to be quite the juicy front page news for media outlets across the globe.

Competitors from many of the competing countries have expressed their delight at the Invictus Games, with many war veterans and injury sufferers feeling as though the congregation provided a somewhat new lease of life for them.

Prince Harry himself proudly proclaimed; “these games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of servicemen and women, their families and the ‘invictus’ spirit.”

The truth is that people feel that the Invictus Games are not as impressive as the Olympics, and this is because they aren’t. They are not designed to flaunt the world’s greatest athletes and put on the greatest show on Earth, but they are designed to bring awareness and shed light on the fact that war injuries do not limit sporting achievement.

They are made to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. And all this considered, this, without question, is indeed something that the Invictus Games achieves easily.

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