Prince Harry Speaks Out in Personal Video After His Invictus Games Are Postponed Due to Coronavirus

Harry's Paralympic-style competition for wounded veterans and service men and women was set for May in The Netherlands

Prince Harry‘s Invictus Games won’t go on as planned.

His Paralympic-style competition for wounded veterans and service men and women was set for May in The Hague, The Netherlands. However, the event has been postponed until May or June 2021 due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for all of us to have to make,” Prince Harry, 35, said in a personal video. “And I’m so grateful for everybody that’s worked so hard over the past couple of weeks to try to find any alternative to try and carry on these Games in a different way — in a safe way.”

The dad to 10-month-old son Archie added, “But this decision was the most sensible and the safest option for all of you — for your families and everybody else — involved in these Games.”

Harry continued that he knew how “disappointed” the athletes would be but encouraged them to stay focused.

“The good thing is you’ll have an extra 12 or so months to be even fitter — to get even fitter than you already are. To be at your absolute top mental and physical fitness,” he said with a smile. “In that sense, I’m really excited about the Games next year.”

“We know that not holding the Invictus Games this May will be disappointing news to the whole Invictus Family, and to all of those involved in the planning and delivery of the Games,” the Invictus Games Foundation said in a statement. “We are very appreciative of the continued support of those who have been and continue to be involved in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, and we remain committed to the recovery of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-harry/" data-inlink="true">Prince Harry</a>, Duke of Sussex
Chris Jackson/Getty

“The current situation is complex and evolving rapidly,” they added. “Work is now being undertaken with the teams, partners, and suppliers with a view to delivering a successful Invictus Games in 2021.”

Invictus Games Sydney 2018 - Day 2
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at 2018 Invictus Games. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

The Invictus Games are so special to Harry, who served in the Army for more than 10 years, that just days after welcoming son Archie in May 2019, he traveled to the Netherlands to kick off the official countdown to the 2020 Games. During the visit, Harry tried his hand at archery, landing the arrow close to the target’s center and receiving a congratulatory handshake for his efforts.

Invictus Games Sydney 2018 - Day 2

The Invictus Games are also important to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as a couple. During the 2017 Games, held in Toronto, they had their debut as a couple.

Both had major parts during the Sydney Games in 2018, which took place during their royal tour to Australia (and also included stops in Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand), from making ceremony speeches to rooting on competitions.

Previous Invictus Games have been hosted by London (2014) and Orlando (2016).

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

F:PHOTOMediaFactory ActionsRequests DropBox48121#rex usarexfeatures_9080216ah.jpg
Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

Despite Prince Harry and Meghan’s departure from the royal family, officially going into effect at the end of this month, the Duke of Sussex announced in January that the Games are heading to Germany in 2022.

“I am honoured that Germany will take the Invictus Story further, with the sixth Invictus Games heading to Düsseldorf in 2022,” Harry said. “Germany has been a key part of the Invictus Games family since the very start in 2014 and I know that they will be exemplary hosts in picking up the mantle and showcasing what sport continues to do for these inspirational men and women in their recovery.”

“I hope everyone in Germany is ready for what will be an incredible week of sport!” he added. “I have no doubt that the German public will get right behind these Games and that every single competitor can expect a warm welcome and an amazing atmosphere.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

Related Articles