“An international celebration of optimism, hope and inner strength!”

The eagerly awaited INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing kicked off on Saturday, 9 September, with a touching and inspiring Opening Ceremony.

As early as at the beginning of the show, the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA rocked as the nations, led by their captains, solemnly marched into the “Heart of Invictus”. The more than 500 competitors were welcomed by the Mayor of Düsseldorf, Dr Stephan Keller. The tone of the show was set by the founder of the Games, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, with a touching welcome speech:

“Whether competitor or spectator, you will all take so much away from these Games. There are endless opportunities to have your lives touched and hearts opened,” he said.

“The energy alone is palpable and contagious. Lean into it and keep it close. Let it inspire the limitless in you. Remember you are not only watching or participating in sport but experiencing the magic of the human spirit – learning first hand from those who live not bound by their journey but instead freed by it.”

The Opening Ceremony was moderated by Hadnet Tesfai and Steven Gätjen. Later, under roaring applause, dancers from the AXIS Dance Company, one of the world’s most famous inclusive dance companies, raised the official Invictus Games flag with the help of six children. The show was crowned by rap superstar Macklemore with number one hits such as “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”. The show in Düsseldorf was the biggest opening show in the history of the Games.

A total of 624 medals in ten sports will be awarded at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 until Saturday, 16 September. The venue of the Games is the Invictus Games Park surrounding the MERKUR SPIEL ARENA which took 15,000 hours of work to set up. More than 600 journalists have been accredited and over 100,000 visitors are expected. With Columbia, Israel and Nigeria, three new nations are taking part in the sporting event physically and mentally wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. The Invictus Games is the largest international event of its kind.

This sporting event, which will be held under the motto “A HOME FOR RESPECT, is jointly organised by the Bundeswehr and the City of Düsseldorf.

“Every single story of the competitors shows how high the price of service and safeguarding freedom and security for all of us can be. This service on the part of military personnel should never be taken for granted, because it is not a given. I am delighted that the Invictus Games are taking place in Germany for the first time and am sure they will be an international celebration of optimism, hope and inner strength,” said Boris Pistorius, the Federal Minister of Defence.

Canada, the next host nation of the Invictus Games, also eagerly anticipated the start of the Games. “We very much look forward to the Games and the spectacular ceremonies that will be a highlight of our visit to Düsseldorf. As the next host nation of the Invictus Games, we look forward to participating in the competitions, enjoying the shows and forging meaningful links with people from all over the world,’ says Daniel Comeau, the Team Canada Captain. The next Invictus Games will take in place in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada in 2025.