How to See Toronto's Invictus Games (and Prince Harry!)
The Invictus Games are coming to Toronto from Sept. 23-30 -- and with them, 550 competitors from 17 nations, more than 60,000 spectators and Prince Harry, the Games’ patron and biggest champion. “Take this opportunity to bring your family, bring your friends, bring your kids," the prince has urged Canadians. "Come and be part of something really, really special.”
To help you do just that, here's our primer to the star-studded ceremonies, the free events, the hottest tickets, how to watch from anywhere in Canada -- and where you can spy a glimpse of Prince Harry.
What are the Invictus Games?
Now in their third year, the Invictus Games are a sporting competition for ill, injured and wounded service members, with 12 adaptive sports from sitting volleyball to powerlifting. But there's more than medals at stake for participants. “They want to prove to the rest of the world that you know what, if I've lost a leg, two legs and arm, or if I've been suffering from depression or anxiety for many, many years, no matter who you are, you can fight back from that,” Prince Harry told CTV National News.
Why should I go?
Like other world-class sporting events, the Invictus Games offer a chance to cheer for your national team and see outstanding athletes. They're also an opportunity to show support for soldiers and veterans -- and for the powerful message the Games send about perseverance, second chances, bravery and teamwork. "Prince Harry always says it’s the only sporting event where you’ll see the first person who crosses the line turn around and carry the last person across the line with them," says Stephanie D'Lima, manager of communications at Invictus Games Toronto. "It’s really that kind of camaraderie that will inspire spectators."
What’s this I hear about Bruce Springsteen?
He’ll be performing at the Air Canada Centre for the closing ceremonies on Sept. 30, along with Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson and other hit-makers. Alessia Cara, Sarah McLachlan and The Tenors are on the lineup for the opening ceremony on Sept. 23. Find out more and buy tickets here. (Both ceremonies will also be broadcast on CTV.)
Where can I catch the Games for free?
Five sporting events are being held in public spaces across the GTA, kicking off on Sept. 23 with the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge in the Distillery District. Wheelchair tennis is expected to draw a crowd in Nathan Phillips Square on Sept. 24-25, while the private St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke is throwing open its doors on Sept. 26 so the public can cheer on golfers. Cyclists will speed through High Park on Sept. 26-27 -- a terrific way for families to watch the fun -- and archery happens at Fort York from Sept. 27-29.
What are the hottest ticketed sports?
Marquee events include wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, both held at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. Swimming is also popular; if you haven’t seen the still-new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre yet, this is your chance. Tickets for these events ($25) are on sale now.
Where can I get a glimpse of Prince Harry?
His schedule is top-secret, but Prince Harry -- who’s famously dating Toronto-based actress Meghan Markle -- will likely have a presence at the ceremonies as well as many of the sporting events. “From what we’ve experienced at the past two Invictus Games, Prince Harry is right front row and centre with the competitors,” D'Lima tells Travelzoo. “He’ll be presenting medals, most likely, and just being there to show his support.” Our prediction? Ticketed indoor events are a royal-watcher’s best bet, as they present fewer security challenges than big outdoor gatherings.
How can Canadians outside Toronto share the spirit of the Invictus Games?
“Our promise to the prince was that we were going to deliver more than just a city; we were going to deliver Canada,” says D'Lima, pointing to the National Flag Tour that kicked off in Comox, B.C., on Aug. 16. Flagbearers will be travelling across the country on the days leading up to the Games and the public is invited to come out and cheer them on. Once the Games begin, look for coverage of events on TSN and RDS.