Greater Victoria’s island location may hurt its case as it competes against Germany’s seventh largest city Duesseldorf for the right to host the 2022 Invictus Games as one of two finalists, with a final announcement not until November, the public heard Monday.
Dominic Reid, chief executive officer of the Invictus Games Foundation, praised Greater Victoria’s bid to host the games for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women and veterans founded and sponsored by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, but also highlighted a drawback when pressed for specifics.
“There are lots of strengths, it’s very, very clear,” he said in calling Victoria a “wonderful potential host city” that has a lot going for itself. “The community spirit is terrific,” he said. “But as you know…if you want something that is a little bit of a challenge, you are on Vancouver Island. It is somewhere where you gotta bring people to from around the world.”
Reid tried to downplay the significance of Victoria’s location. The final decision will turn on a variety of factors, he said, adding that Victoria has impressed him. He later pointed out that Sydney in Australia has hosted the games. “I don’t think it [location] is necessarily a determining factor,” he said. “But it is something that people are more and more considering. You got to remember that are your dealing with a constituency for whom getting around has become an issue.”
The physiological effect of an 11-hour-flight to North America for a triple amputee is not insignificant, he said.
Duesseldorf, by contrast, lies in the heart of Europe. The status of its airport as the third largest in Germany means the area is readily accessible. The city and its surrounding urban area also boasts a wide variety of facilities and cultural attractions, prompting Mercer, a global consulting company, to rank Duesseldorf as the sixth most livable city in the world, behind Vancouver (2nd place) but ahead of several major cities around the world.
Reid said the foundation will review both bids after their respective visits to London on Sept. 17. Following internal deliberations, the foundation will enter negotiations with the preferred host city, he added.
“There are number of processes we need to go through to make sure that people have the time to ask questions, and for us also to make sure that both of us [the foundation and the host city] are comfortable,” he said.
The eventual announcement will likely not come until November of this year, he said.
Peter Lawless, who heads Victoria’s bids, said the games and Victoria are “perfectly matched” for each other because of Greater Victoria’s status as a military community, as well as its reputation for producing top athletes. The scale of the games also fit the community, he added. Current estimates peg the total cost of hosting the games at $39 million.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Lisa Beare, provincial minister of tourism, arts and culture, and Lawrence MacAulay, minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence, also spoke in favour of the bid.