When you’re planning an opening or closing ceremony for something like the Invictus Games, planning and practice begin months and months in advance and you expect the meticulously choreographed “big ticket” items to add the wow factor that people talk about. But sometimes, spontaneity by the producer contributes to a triumph.
GPJ Australia produced a wonderful closing ceremony for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at Qudos Bank Arena, presented by Jaguar Land Rover. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did their part admirably. The highlight, though, was a special tribute to Edwin Vermetten, the Dutch playing partner to Paul Guest. When Guest’s PTSD was triggered by a helicopter flying overhead during his match, Vermetten ran to his side and comforted him by singing Let it Go from the movie, Frozen. During the closing ceremony, Vermetten was given the Above and Beyond Award while the audience of 12,000 sang the same song in his honour.
The success of closing ceremony followed from the Opening Ceremony, which was also produced by GPJ and was held on the Sydney Opera House forecourt on Saturday October 20.
Highlights from the Opening Ceremony included the Australian Army Pipes and Drums playing You’re the Voice at the opening and the collaborative performance by Kate Cerebano, Ian Moss and William Barton of Flame Trees, with a cameo performance by Sharon Strzelecki (Magda Szubanski).
The highlights of the Closing Ceremony included an electric atmosphere, the emotion of the competition, the elation and pride from the family and friends, and all the acts.
Acts included Chris Tamwoy, Marliya Choir, Birds of Tokyo, Starley, Colin Hay and the audience singing Down Under, Kingdom Choir and Aloe Blacc. For the Grand Finale, the audience sang Wake Me Up with Aloe Blacc.
Patrick Kidd, OBE, chief executive officer of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, commented, “The production team of GPJ went above and beyond to deliver exceptional ceremonies that Australia can be truly proud of.”
Caleb Bush, managing director, GPJ Australia, added, “I have been personally and professionally inspired by these games. From the amazing feats achieved by the unconquered competitors to the diligence of our outstanding ceremonies teams and suppliers. It’s been a truly uplifting experience that I have cherished and will never forget.”
Invictus Games Sydney 2018 was the fourth Invictus Games with 500 competitors from 18 nations competing in 11 medal sports supported by 1,000 family and friends and over 110,000 spectators, and broadcast globally.