Prince Harry at an Invictus Games event
For the competitors in Prince Harry's Paralympic-style Invictus Games, the camaraderie of the competition is as much a part of the event as the winning and losing.
However, it's lost when the games can't happen – as was the case last year and now this year with the recent announcement that the Invictus Games have been canceled yet again due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, Harry and his fellow organizers shared that the event, which was set to take place in The Hague, in the Netherlands, will now be postponed until spring 2022.
But for those sick and injured servicemen and women who were set to take part, and those who have done so in the past, there is a worldwide community out there supporting each other. And that community includes the Duke of Sussex.
"He is involved in the meetings we have and is always very keen to bring the conversation back to what competitors want and they need," an Invictus Games spokesman says.
Chris Jackson/Getty Prince Harry at an Invictus Games event
Keeping spirits up and building on the Invictus Games' success at bringing new challenges to servicemen and women is something that former army officer Prince Harry, who served two tours of Afghanistan, is mindful of. And, as ever, Harry will be key to keeping morale going whenever and however he can.
In November 2019, the organization launched the WeAreInvictus app, which is designed for international wounded, injured and sick personnel to have a "safe and secure space to support one another" beyond and between the games.
Through the app, people can suggest their own sporting challenges and find other events that are taking place. So, a weightlifter might set up a mini-contest against colleagues or competitors around the world.
"There are things that have happened during the pandemic that have proven to be so beneficial that we will carry on doing," according to the Invictus Games Foundation that runs the contests.
Two weeks ago, an additional project called Powered by Invictus leagues launched. Covering swimming, track and field, archery, cycling and indoor rowing, it allows people around the world to record their sporting endeavors in one place and creates a league table against their colleagues. It re-sets every month or quarter, depending on the sport.
"It is friendly competition and banter," the spokesman explains.
Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Meghan Markle at Invictus Games, Sydney 2018
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The fact that the spirit and sense of togetherness that is so evident during the Invictus Games can't flourish in light of restrictions and social distance rules amid the ongoing pandemic is one of the reasons why organizers had to postpone this year's event once again. But Harry and his team are hoping to have events throughout the year – especially during the week that the contest would have been held between May 29 and June 5, to provide a focus for those who would have taken part.
And since international travel isn't possible for the competitors, there may be in-person events in some of the countries that were set to be involved.
"Within each nation, we can hopefully bring people together when it is safe to do so," the spokesman adds.