From 16 - 22 April 2022, the Invictus Games 2020 took place in Zuiderpark, The Hague, in the Netherlands for the first time ever. Together with Technical Producer and Production Manager Remco Hendriks, we look back on this unique sporting event.
Invictus means unconquered. A word that embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick service personnel; and personifies what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Invictus Games is more than just sport. It captures hearts, challenges minds and saves lives. The Invictus games was founded by Prince Harry. The inspiration came from his visit to the Warrior Games in the USA, where he witnessed sports’ ability to help people- both psychologically and physically. The inaugural Invictus Games was held in London in September 2014. The Duke of Sussex, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, and the organizing committee of the London 2014 Games, fondly hoped that this event would be the beginning of the ‘Invictus’ story; and that other cities and countries around the world would take up the challenge and continue the legacy.
Since then, the games have been held in Orlando, USA in 2016; Toronto, Canada in 2017 and Sydney, Australia in 2018. The Dutch edition was originally planned to take place in 2020 but had to be postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic. This is the first time the event was hosted in The Netherlands. The Invictus Games is an iconic project, not only in meaning but also in numbers with 500 competitors from 20 different countries, participating in 10 different sports.
Backbone worked with TIG Sports on the F1 Dutch Grand Prix, which returned to the Zandvoort racetrack in 2021 after an absence of 36 years. “Following our previous pleasant collaboration on the F1, TIG Sports asked us to take on the Technical and Overlay Design and Technical and Overlay Production for the Invictus Games. Obviously, this was a no-brainer for us, and we were more than happy to contribute to this wonderful project”, recalls Remco. “The Invictus Games 2020 The Hague was a challenging project for the production team, using locations for multiple purposes, and with limited flexibility in the event. This requires a professional and experienced production team and that is where Backbone came in; their can-do mindset has helped us before and works perfectly fine with our colleagues at TIG Sports”, says Willem Overdiep, Senior Project Manager at TIG Sports.
Remco: “The build-up for the Invictus Games took seven weeks. The event lasted one week, and then the load-out kept us busy for another three weeks. A huge stadium of 17 m high, 60m wide and 85m long was custom built for the event, with room for over 2000 supporters and friends. We specified the desired construction for it and ensured that all the facilities required to build were present. Neptunes Structures eventually constructed the whole arena.” Our team also helped in realizing the wish for a sustainable electricity infrastructure to limit the use of generators. Together with Shell, the Invictus Games had the ambition to roll out a sustainable power system and Backbone stepped in halfway through this process and assisted to bring it to an eco-friendly and timely conclusion.
The Technical and Overlay Production further included producing the water infrastructure, the sanitary and climate systems, lightning protection systems, scaffolding constructions, light, sound, and video plus the tent constructions across the whole terrain. Backbone also provided the Technical and Overlay drawings, where every detail of the area was mapped out.
“With a project of this magnitude, of course there were challenges. But we proved ourselves to be prepared, flexible and positive. “We had to change our schedule and deliver 3 days earlier than initially planned due to a mandatory security check in the middle of the process. A large part of the pre-production was done during Covid-times, this made things more complex than usual, especially with deadlines, but in the end, we still managed to keep a tight grip on budgets and time schedules.” In 7 weeks, the Zuiderpark was transformed from an empty open field into a temporary sporting village with around 10.000 visitors per day from at least 20 different countries. “It was a very inspiring and impressive project to work on, to say the least.
“Looking back at the event, all I can say is that it was one big highlight! For me, personally, the best moments were when during the event days, after the morning inspection round, I would quietly look over the site from the crew terrace, with a fresh coffee. It would dawn on me every time that the whole village has come to life and all the technical and production systems worked flawlessly, as planned. That was a daily high point. To say we feel privileged to have contributed to this unique and important international event, would be an understatement. We’re still enjoying the afterglow and are happy it was a great success.”, concludes Remco.
Photo credits: Ben Houdijk | Group photo credits: TIG Sports