Victoria one of two host city finalists for 2022 Invictus Games
However, the head of the Invictus Foundation says Victoria poses a challenge
Victoria, B.C., has been chosen as one of two cities in the running to host the 2022 Invictus Games.
The games, created by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, are an international sports tournament held every two years, where wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women and veterans from Commonwealth countries compete.
"The Invictus Games is an incredible event that celebrates tenacity, perseverance and the power of sport — the Province is proud to support the bid to host the Games in Greater Victoria in 2022," read a statement from Premier John Horgan.
Twelve Olympic and Paralympic sports have their national training centres in Greater Victoria, and the region has barrier-free competition venues that meet or exceed all sport-specific criteria.
"For the athletes that take part in events like this, the chance to step forward and wear their country's uniform again plays an important role — not just in their recovery, but in their transition back to civilian life," said Lawrence MacAulay, the federal minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence.
Peter Lawless, chair of the Victoria Military Sports Society, says great weather, the city's navy connection, world class venues — including facilities from the 1994 Commonwealth Games — and buy-in from local community could lead to a fantastic Invictus Games.
"Victoria is just this wonderful community of volunteers, sport and military," Lawless said. "We're kind of that trifecta — and I think it's time for us to host again."
Lawless, who is part of the team spearheading Victoria's bid, said while the week of sport would be a wonderful event for the city, what's more important is the legacy.
"We have a strong plan to leave behind a legacy, a fund that helps promote mental health initiatives, health and wellbeing, for injured and ill soldiers, sailors, and aircrew, long past the time the [Invictus Games] are gone."
Dominic Reid, CEO of the Invictus Games Foundation has been touring the region's sport venues and assessing Victoria's overall bid in hosting the 19 participating nations.
Reid said Victoria has a lot of strengths as a potential host city.
But he said, the one challenge it faces is getting people who are coming from around the world and who are physically challenged — to Vancouver Island.
"The physiological effect for someone who is a triple amputee — of eleven hours on an airplane is not insignificant," said Reid.
Prince Harry and then-girlfriend Meghan Markle made their first official public appearance as a couple when the games were held in Toronto in September, 2017.
Decision in November
Representatives from Victoria and Dusseldorf, which is the other city in the running to host the games, will be in London Sept.17, 2019, to make their final pitches to the Invictus Games Foundation, with the decision expected in November.
With files from All Points West