Against all odds, Team Ukraine has arrived safely in the Netherlands ahead of the Invictus Games.
“We are delighted to share the safe arrival of Team Ukraine ahead of their participation in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020,” the Invictus Games Foundation Twitter account said in a statement on Wednesday, alongside photos of the athletes.
“They have been training for this event as part of their recovery for the last 3 years, and are looking forward to being a part of the Invictus community in person once again,” the statement added.
The games were originally supposed to take place in The Hague two years ago, hence the official title’s reference to 2020. They are finally set to kick off from April 16 to April 22 after being delayed and rescheduled multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For Team Ukraine, the journey to get to The Hague has been an unfathomable one as Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine continues and nearly 5 million Ukrainians have evacuated the country.
Tragically, four members of Ukraine’s Invictus community have died in the invasions: Serhii Karajvan, Dmytro Oliynyk, Vladimir Motelchuk and Sergey Smilin.
“All were Warrior Games trialists and competitors, and whilst they were not preparing for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, they were all extremely active in the international Invictus community on the We Are Invictus platform,” the Invictus Games Foundation said on its website earlier this month. “Competing in events over the past year including the virtual London Marathon, and online Rowing championships.”
At the time, it wasn’t known whether Team Ukraine would be competing virtually or in person, which is what makes Wednesday’s news so important.
“This is HUGE. There has been a load of, understandable, uncertainty as to whether @invictusgamesua would make it to @InvictusGamesNL,” tweeted veteran JJ Chalmers on Wednesday. Chalmers is a friend of the Duke of Sussex and an Invictus Games medalist and will be announcing at this year’s games.
“Thank you to everyone who made this possible, I can’t wait to get out there and see you guys.”
As the crisis in Ukraine continues, both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have voiced support for Ukraine, made donations to help people and media organizations on the ground, and supported organizations giving aid.
“Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and all of us at Archewell stand with the people of Ukraine against this breach of international and humanitarian law and encourage the global community and its leaders to do the same,” the royals said in an announcement on their website in February.
Both Harry and Meghan will be at the opening ceremonies of the games, which are set to kick off on Saturday.