Australia

Prince Harry raises Invictus Games flag over Sydney

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The Duke of Sussex has climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise the flag for his Invictus Games for wounded war veterans which starts in Sydney on Saturday.

The Invictus flag is flying high above the Sydney Harbour Bridge, heralding the imminent start of the games for war veterans championed by one of their own, Prince Harry.

The Duke of Sussex, who served as an officer in the British Army for a decade, climbed the bridge to raise the black, yellow and white Invictus standard in place of the NSW flag for the fourth games which open in Sydney on Saturday night.

Harry was accompanied by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Invictus competitors Luke Hill, Ruth Hunt and Peter Rudland .

Games ambassador Gwen Cherne whose husband, veteran Peter Cafe, took his own life last February, was also on the climb on a picture-perfect Sydney afternoon.

The Invictus Games flag on the Harbour Bridge ahead of the event.
The Invictus Games flag on the Harbour Bridge ahead of the event.
SBS News

With a helicopter buzzing overhead, the prince looked cheerful and happy to be bringing the focus of his visit to Australia back to the games, which feature 500 competitors from 18 nations.

Harry and Meghan started their royal visit to Australia on Tuesday, with engagements at Taronga Zoo, Dubbo, Melbourne and Bondi beach dominating their agenda.

But now they will devote their attention to the Invictus games for several days and spend time with a number of the competitors' supporters as they cheer them on from the sidelines.

Harry, who served two tours of Afghanistan, was inspired to set up the Invictus Games after visiting the US Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013.

He saw there the positive impact sport was having on the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded servicemen and women.

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The Royals hit Bondi Beach.
The Royals hit Bondi Beach.

The Sydney games will emphasise the integral role played by servicemen and women's family and friends.

The royal couple will spend four days out of Sydney on other engagements, including a quick side-trip to Tonga and Fiji, before returning at the end of next week for the closing.

But there will be plenty of support for the athletes, with big names including Ian Thorpe and David and Victoria Beckham expected to make appearances.

The first event will take place on Cockatoo Island on the harbour on Saturday, followed by the opening ceremony at the Opera House later that night.

During the week, more than 500 competitors from 18 nations will compete in 11 adaptive sports, including archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and rugby.

Prince Harry makes his way to the top of the Bridge.
Prince Harry makes his way to the top of the Bridge.
SBS News

What are the Invictus Games?

An international Paralympic-style, multi-sporting event for wounded and sick defence force veterans and actively serving men and women, founded by Prince Harry.

Why did Prince Harry launch the event?

- His inspiration came in part from his decade-long service with the British Army, which included two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

- He set up the Invictus Games after visiting the US Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013, when he saw the positive impact sport was having on the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded servicemen and women.

Where have the Invictus Games been held before?

- The first Invictus Games were held in London in 2014, with more than 400 competitors from 13 nations.

- The second games were hosted two years later by Orlando, Florida, where more than 500 competitors from 15 nations competed. Toronto hosted the 2017 Games, with 550 competitors from 17 nations.

What will the Sydney Games be like?

- More than 500 competitors from 18 nations will compete in 11 adaptive sports at venues across Sydney between October 20 and 27.

- The events are: Archery, athletics, indoor rowing, driving challenge, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and rugby.

Which nations will compete? 

- Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

How many Aussies will compete?

- 72 service veterans and defence force personnel have been selected for competition, making the group Australia's largest ever team to compete at an Invictus Games.

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