Former U.S. president Barack Obama is to attend the Invictus Games for wounded and recovering warriors in Toronto later this month.
Kevin Lewis, a spokesperson for Obama, said the former president wants to lend his support to American competitors “to once again express his gratitude for their service and his admiration for their courage and resilience.”
Obama plans to meet with some of the wounded warriors competing in 12 adaptive sports at the Toronto games, which run from Sept. 23 to 30.
At last year’s games in Orlando, Fla., Obama, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince Harry, the patron and founder of the games, began a friendly media rivalry between the three nations. Trudeau tweeted challenges to the others and helped promote the games.
First lady Melania Trump, wife of U.S. President Donald Trump, is expected to attend the games as well, all of it posing a security challenge for the RCMP and U.S. Secret Service.
Lewis said they are unfamiliar with the White House schedule, and there are no plans for Obama to meet with Melania Trump.
Obama is likely to meet with Prince Harry, but there is no word yet on whether Trudeau will attend.
Lewis could not say whether Obama will meet with Trudeau while he is in Canada. Obama is to deliver a speech in Toronto Sept. 29.
While the games’ focus is squarely on the military competitors and their feats, there is an element of spectacle to them. Mike Myers has been named an official ambassador. Alessia Cara, Sarah McLachlan and The Tenors are set to perform at the opening of the Invictus Games. Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Bachman & Turner, and Kelly Clarkson are to perform at the closing ceremony.
Organizers anticipate about 550 competitors will attend the event from 17 countries, including the U.S., France, Romania, Iraq and Australia. Canada’s team will have 90 members, the largest team it’s ever had, said Michael Burns, chief executive officer of Invictus Games Toronto 2017.
Some of the 12 sports the wounded warriors will be competing in include golf, sitting volleyball and wheelchair rugby.
But the games are not just about the competitors. Based on the two previous Invictus Games, an estimated 1,500 friends and family members are expected to accompany the athletes.
Prince Harry was inspired to create the Invictus Games after visiting the U.S.-based Warrior Games for wounded, ill and injured military personnel and veterans, according to the games’ website.
In a Toronto Star exclusive, Prince Harry wrote about his passion for the games, and about the powerful, uplifting message it contains for everyone from spectators to competitors and their loved ones.
He noted that the Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and build a wider understanding for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, he wrote.
“Since the Invictus Games started three years ago . . . I have seen that they have given competitors new hope as they recovered from serious injuries and illnesses,” the prince wrote.
“Time and time again, competitors from around the world tell me that sport has saved them; that the Invictus Games have given them a new lease on life; and that to represent their country again with fellow comrades is something they could only have dreamt of while lying in hospital.”
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