The Invictus Games tournament for wounded, injured, and ill service personnel and veterans kicked off in the Netherlands on Saturday night to a standing ovation and a homage from Prince Harry to the Ukrainian team members who traveled from their war-torn country to compete.
According to a video shared by Reuters, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke at the ceremony in The Hague, Netherlands, praising the "bravery" of the Ukrainian competitors.
According to the site, Meghan remarked, "For each team, my husband and I both understand it's taken a lot to get here, both physically and emotionally, not least of which for the Ukraine team, whom we are all standing with."
The Invictus Games were developed by Harry to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick armed service members and veterans by providing them with the opportunity to compete in sports events comparable to the Paralympics.
Before addressing directly to the Ukrainian team about their meeting, Harry remarked that all of the athletes at the Invictus Games encouraged everyone to give back in their own manner at the opening ceremony.
"Your bravery in choosing to come, and for being here tonight, cannot be overstated. You told me yesterday when you decided to join us, despite all odds, you said you came to be on this global stage not simply to show your strength but to tell your truth — the truth — of what is happening in your country," Harry said at the opening ceremony.
"You know we're here for you; the entire world is behind you, and you still deserve more."
"I could not love and respect him more," Meghan said before introducing Harry to the stage. And I know you all feel the same way, since he is a fellow veteran who has served two tours in Afghanistan and ten years in the military."
Earlier in the opening ceremony, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte noted that photos of Invictus athletes put throughout The Hague, the city hosting this year's competition, highlight the competitors' "resilience, fortitude in the face of hardship, vulnerability, and strength."
"These are your stories, your lifelines, and the circumstances in Ukraine right now make them even more relevant. As shouts and chants erupted, he remarked, "I'd want to send a particular greeting to the Ukrainian squad."
The Ukrainians are among 500 contestants from 20 countries competing in the games, which run until April 22. Many of them are taking a respite from defending their country against the Russian invasion that launched a catastrophic conflict.
Competition in the games began earlier in the day on Saturday with a driving challenge around an automotive obstacle course. When Harry was driven around the course, he got up close and personal with the action.
Later, when they were being driven about in small Land Rover automobiles with children at the driving, he and Meghan waved to onlookers.
The ongoing Games
Athletes will compete in athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby beginning on Sunday.
Harry and Meghan, as the duke and duchess of Sussex are known, attended a welcoming reception for contestants and their friends and family on Friday.
It was the couple's first public appearance in Europe since they left their formal royal responsibilities and relocated to the United States more than two years ago, citing the terrible strain of their roles and the racist views of the British media as reasons.
The Games will take place till April 22. The Games were initially hosted in London in 2014, and they have since been staged in Orlando, Florida (2016), Toronto, Canada (2017), and Sydney, Australia (2018). Dusseldorf, Germany, will host the 2023 edition.
The current Games in The Hague were originally scheduled for 2020, but were postponed because to the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, the Games began on Saturday with a driving challenge around an automotive obstacle course.
Athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, seated volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby are among the adaptive sports being competed in by over 500 athletes from 20 countries.
Apart from Ukraine, Canada, Georgia, Romania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, and Denmark are among the participants.