Welcome by Mayor Jan van Zanen at the informal welcoming gathering for family and friends of those taking part in the Invictus Games, 15 April 2022
Competitors, Friends and Family,
Duke and Duchess of Sussex,
Secretary of State,
A very warm welcome to The Hague.
The city whose honour it is to be hosting these Invictus Games.
Welcome all you athletes, the heroes of the games.
Welcome, too, family and friends.
Because you are just as important in providing support and encouragement to all the participants.
Sadly, the war in Ukraine casts a shadow over these games.
We are missing four Ukrainian athletes who gave their lives for the defence of their country.
Our thoughts are with their loved ones.
I would like to extend an especially warm welcome to their teammates who could be here.
The Hague offers you all a home for the coming days.
Just as we aim to be a home for all those who come here.
The Hague is a place where everyone can make their dreams come true.
Even if they have a disability.
Sport plays a very large part in that.
And that is precisely why The Hague is so delighted that the Invictus Games are taking place here.
But not for that reason alone.
The Hague is known as the international city of peace and justice.
Which is why The Hague also has a special place in its heart for soldiers and veterans.
Because peace and justice cannot always be achieved through diplomacy alone.
Peace and justice often have to be fought for, by brave men and women.
You have offered countless people, all over the world, the most precious thing:
The prospect of a life without fear.
The chance to live in peace and dignity, with justice.
Something for which I have the greatest respect.
And I am certainly not alone in that.
No one comes out of a war unmarked.
Even if they have been trained for it.
That you veterans, after travelling the long road to recovery, have come here to compete at the highest level:
demonstrates just what a human being is capable of.
And that an injury does not have to limit you.
Your resilience and determination are an example to us all.
As is the unconditional support and solidarity shown by your friends and family.
I wish you all the very best of luck.
And please know that you will always be welcome in The Hague.