scaffolding and workers in the middle of the Merkul Spiel Arena

Construction is underway in the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA and soon the Games can begin

With clockwork precision, planners, organisers, service providers and armed forces are bringing the ambitious vision of INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing to life in the state capital Düsseldorf.

From a distance, the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA in Düsseldorf looks a little like a seemingly chaotic but very structured anthill. People both in uniform and plain clothes work intently on the grand plan to accomplish the Invictus Games target. Trucks drive in and out, are unloaded; stage elements are assembled, and everywhere there is focused hammering, screw-fastening, knocking. Yet the atmosphere is unagitated, concentrated and professional. Despite the narrow deadline, no one shouts, everyone knows they can rely on each other.

In temperatures of 30 degrees, but luckily in the shade, the specialists assemble parts of the Dutch Air Force’s showpiece helicopter. The workers in the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA are fortunate enough to be working under the closed arena roof. Opposite, tradesmen are completing the air conditioning system for the press tent. Between two vehicles, a staff member is assembling table legs. In the break area, servicemen and women relax, always ready to do their job, “to support the civilian forces” as one young soldier says.

a wide shot of scaffolding and builders in the centre of the Merkul Spiel Arena

The venue is taking shape more and more, transforming from a football stadium into a place of multi-disciplinary, international competitions with a high degree of accessibility. The pagodas in the Invictus Village are almost all set up, and the Nations Home, where competitors and their friends and families can hang out and exchange ideas, as well as watch the Games on livestream, is almost ready as well.

With pride, Roland Aberle and Martin Ammermann from D.LIVE, which is responsible for the technical and organisational implementation of the Games, report on the progress of construction: In the stadium itself, a main stage and a centre court with 4000 seats are being built; 50 changing rooms are available and even a lift is being specially installed. 150 kilometres of cable and 50 kilometres of fibre optics have also already been laid. A curved line in the floor design depicts the Rhine. 950 contractors bill for 14,000 hours of work.

18,000 spectators are expected for the opening on Saturday, and tickets for the Opening Ceremony are still available. Admission to the sporting competitions is free. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, will be present throughout the week. The Düsseldorfers’ exclamation “Dä Prinz kütt!” (The prince is coming) is highly anticipated in the next week, not just during Carnival season.

Author: Sönke Willms-Heyng