Prince says he hopes championship modelled on US Warrior Games will stop soldiers being forgotten as Afghan war ends
Prince Harry has made a passionate plea for Britain to come out and support a Paralympic-style championship for injured servicemen and women that he has launched.
Harry suggested the sporting event, called the Invictus Games, would ensure UK troops would not be forgotten as Britain’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan comes to an end. He has been instrumental in bringing the idea for the championship from America, where it is called the Warrior Games, to the UK after seeing the event staged in Colorado last year.
The chancellor, George Osborne, announced £1m to support the project. The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, and London mayor, Boris Johnson, attended the event’s launch at the Copper Box arena at the former Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. Harry, a serving army officer, was dressed in fatigues and gave a short presentation before he later joined some of the wounded troops in a demonstration of seated volleyball.
“It’s not about supporting the conflict in Afghanistan, it’s not about supporting war, it’s not about supporting the forces themselves, but come along, show your support, look at the journey these guys have been through,” Harry said.
“And also take the opportunity if you haven’t done so already … [to] come and sit in these iconic Olympic and Paralympic venues where we won a hell of a lot of medals back in 2012.”
Harry added: “It’s not about winning or losing. The fact that the guys have got to this stage to be able to take part in these events, they have already won in my mind.
“The games itself is an excuse to bring attention to the legacy part. We want to try to get as many of these servicemen and women back into society – giving them jobs and making sure that all the core values that they have been taught in services to make them amazing, wonderful, strong, inspirational people, that they bring it back into the community for the younger generation. Why wouldn’t you do that?”
He added: “We’re drawing down from Afghanistan and people will forget because something will come into the news – look at how busy the world is at the moment.”
Organisers said more than 300 wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, serving and veteran, from 13 nations would compete in eight adaptive sports in London from 10-14 September.
On the programme will be athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, road cycling, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming, sitting volleyball and a driving challenge.
Events will be staged in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with track and field events being held at the Lee Valley athletics centre.
Countries taking part range from Afghanistan and Iraq to Germany, Italy and New Zealand.
The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will contribute a significant grant to the staging of the games.
A short statement from David Cameron was read at the launch by the defence secretary: “Coming shortly after we host the Nato …read more