Israel is set to participate in the Invictus Games, an international contest for injured military veterans that was started by Britain’s Prince Harry and remains one the projects he most keenly supports, the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper reported Sunday.
The biennial games’ governing body, the Invictus Games Foundation, agreed on March 10 that wounded athlete veterans from the the Israel Defense Forces will take part in the 2022 games, to be held in Germany.
The decision came five days after a meeting between the games’ chief executive, Richard Smith, and Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev. A “high-ranking US politician” also pushed on behalf of Israel, the newspaper report said.
Israel was invited to send observers to this year’s games, which were scheduled to be held in May in The Hague, but they were canceled earlier this month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The report did not say if Prince Harry was involved in the decision to bring Israel into the games.
With a view to preparing a team to participate in the 2022 games, funding has been sought from the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a global charity co-founded by London-based Russian-Jewish oligarch Mikhail Fridman.
A spokesperson for the Invictus Games said Saturday night, “We are always open to expand the participating nations of the Invictus Games,” the Mail reported.
The GPC charity confirmed that it had been approached with a request to finance an Israeli team.
“GPG has had an initial conversation with the representatives of the project about potentially, alongside other Israeli charities, providing some financial support,” a spokesperson told the paper.
However, the inclusion of IDF veterans in the games may draw fire from some in the Arab world, warned UK-based Arab journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, who told the Mail, “It will be seen as a way of provoking Arabs by a British Royal.”
The Invictus Games were launched by Prince Harry in 2014 and includes 10 sporting disciplines of athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and a off-road four-wheel drive Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.