Invictus Surprise: Obama Joins Prince Harry to Cheer on Athletes

Barack Obama and Prince Harry cheer on athletes at Toronto 2017 Invictus Games on Sept.29, 2017. Photo credit: Hello Canada/Twitter

Former U.S. President Barack Obama makes a surprise appearance at the Invictus Games.

The former president delighted participants and spectators alike with his surprise visit on Friday to the Invictus Games. Seated in the front row beside Prince Harry, he cheered on athletes in a game of wheelchair basketball (U.S. versus France) on the last day of the games. Also in attendance were former vice president Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

The Invictus Games was set up by Prince Harry in 2014 as a way of helping wounded military personnel and veterans with their physical and psychological rehabilitation.

RELATED: Invictus Games Gives Wounded Canadian Soldiers A New Sense of Purpose

More than 550 competitors from 17 nations have taken part during the week-long event in Canada.

Photo credit: Hello Canada/Twitter

Photo credit: Kensington Palace/Twitter

 

Earlier in the day, Obama addressed a crowd of 3,000 people at a sold-out event at the Toronto Convention Centre. The event was organized by Ottawa-based think-tank Canada 2020.

After receiving a warm welcome from the audience, Obama opened by highlighting two seemingly conflicting attributes of Canada that he observed on his first trip here after taking office. “It was in February,” he explained, inciting laughter from the crowd. “I was not happy with the weather but the warmth of the people almost made up for it.”

Central to his speech though, was his concern about the current political climate in many countries including his own, and the need for change.

“We’ve proved that in a shrinking world where cultures are continually colliding, that a turn to a prude nationalism or xenophobia or the politics of us versus them will take us backwards and not serve the interests of the people,” he said. “While the values of pluralism and tolerance and rule of law [and] empathy can take us forward.”

After his speech, Obama answered a series of questions posed by Bruce Heyman, who was U.S. ambassador to Canada for the Obama administration. Heyman stepped down after President Donald Trump gained office and is now an adviser to Canada2020.