Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 Organising Team with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
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Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 Organising Team with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Keeping up the Invictus Spirit in Düsseldorf!

Once in a lifetime. That’s what I thought after the incredible experience of the Invictus Games in my hometown The Hague in April last year. It was a real honour back then to be part of the Local Organising Committee as Director of Protocol, and to work together with such an amazing team on this inspiring multilateral sports event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans. The Invictus Games is about the road to recovery, and this is why winning a medal here is such an achievement for the competitors. Many of them have suffered physical or mental trauma during service. The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to help this group rediscover themselves, support rehabilitation, and generate wider understanding and respect for those who serve or have served their country.

After having provided a lessons learned and handover workshop to the organisers of the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf in October 2022, I was truly humbled to receive a request of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) and the City of Düsseldorf’s event management company D.Live, to become their International Protocol Director for the next edition from 9 until 16 September, 2023. A true privilege to keeping up the Invictus Spirit, and to be part of this remarkable event, once again! Our mission? Turning Düsseldorf into A Home For Respect for over 500 competitors and their family and friends, as well as a wide range of dignitaries from 21 countries around the world.

Over the past nine months, the preparations of our Protocol Team have been extremely varied and rewarding in order to achieve this mission: from planning numerous ‘recces’ to the Merkur Spiel-Arena, organizing several informative embassy briefings in Berlin, sending more than 1,000 invitations for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, meticulously planning for instructing dozens of medal presenters, or trying to find a right balance between the focus on sports and facilitating side events in a geopolitical context, to having a meeting with presenting partner Boeing in Arlington, Virginia. And from getting familiar with the crowd control in and around the event venue during a colorful concert of Harry Styles, to welcoming our furry mascot Buddy, who symbolizes the incredible support network the Invictus community provides throughout the competitors’ recovery journey.

Due to the broad scope of our tasks, the core Protocol Team grew gradually over the course of the past months to 12. Christian, Thomas, Tim, Dominik, Diana, Lorena, Lea, Christoph, Achim, Michael and Bettina: Vielen Dank für die tolle Arbeit, die Kollegialität und den Humor, den wir gemeinsam hatten on this exceptional journey! But regardless of all our hard work, we could not have completed the mission without our fabulous team of volunteers: Team Protocol has been blessed with more than 100 committed individuals from all walks of life! From mid-June onwards, they voluntarily prepared for the full spectrum of protocol services in a hybrid setting, attending from across Germany, and around the world. Ranging from students to retirees, military as well as civilian, event professionals or protocol novices, and from first-time involvers to committed returners who continue to keeping the Invictus Spirit alive. With a wide variety of tasks on the ground during the Games Week; ranging from welcoming and escorting dignitaries, overseeing the hospitality lounge and the bilateral meeting rooms, providing comfortable settings for our sponsors and trustees, cooperating with security and mobility partners, arranging seatings and informal meet & greets with competitors, and liaising with all delegations by the designated country officers, to coming up with innovative solutions to last minute requests. A big round of applause for all of them! Vielen Dank. Thank you very much. Dank jullie wel.

Because: Wow, what an incredible Games Week it has been! We had operational challenges behind the scenes, but with an overall one-of-a-kind event as a result. More than 140,000 spectators experienced a great atmosphere, full of comradery, impressive sportive achievements, as well as a multitude of heart-touching and life-changing stories. It was an emotional rollercoaster going from observing a minute of silence throughout the venue to commemorate 9/11, to singing Happy Birthday during the sitting volleyball finals for Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, by an enthusiastic crowd. Or from a Ministers’ lunch and Chiefs of Defence breakfast, to the Host City reception and a Ukrainian ‘Thanks, Friends’ gathering. Or from a massive NATO Joint Force Command delegation from Brunssum, to dozens of high-level bilateral meetings, while at the same time our youngest visitors were cuddling with Buddy, a three star general in service dress dancing to Macarena with Dutch fans, to a powerful speech of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the Closing Ceremony, as well as electrifying performances by Macklemore, Sam Ryder and Rita Ora. It was a real privilege to be part of the Organising Committee once again, and to work together with such a wonderful and dedicated team.

The next Invictus Games will be held in Vancouver and Whistler from 8 to 16 February, 2025. I wish our colleagues in Canada all the best to make the 2025 edition another resounding success!


Goosebump alert: please find a heartwarming after movie of the Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 here:

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