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Vancouver's Invictus Games organization shakes up executive team

Nick Booth becomes interim CEO, replacing Peter Lawless
Peter Lawless, hired about a year ago to be the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 CEO, has left the organization | Rob Kruyt

The Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 organization has shaken up its leadership team, with CEO Peter Lawless and chief commercial officer Bill Cooper leaving the organization.

The venture is organizing a global sports extravaganza for wounded, injured and sick military veterans and service members set for Feb. 8 through 16, 2025 at venues across Vancouver and Whistler.

It told BIV in an email this morning that Nick Booth is now interim CEO. 

"Since the award of the bid for the 2025 Games, Nick has been advising the team, and this transition allowed for a continuity of vision and no disruption to the team working to deliver the Games," the organization said in a statement. 

"We can confirm that Peter Lawless and Bill Cooper are no longer employees of Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 and we thank them for their efforts to bring the Games back to Canada. We are delighted that Peter will continue to support the Vancouver Whistler 2025 Games as an ambassador and CEO emeritus."

The organization also disputed reports that finances at the organization are in disarray. 

"There are no budgetary issues relating to the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 and the organization is on track to meet its fundraising targets, thanks to a dedicated network of senior volunteers and our government partners," the organization said. 

News of the shake-up made headlines in the U.K., given that the Games are the brainchild of erstwhile Royal and media celebrity Prince Harry Mountbatten-Windsor, who has lost his Royal Highness title. He founded the Invictus Games in March 2014.

A report in the Daily Mail suggested that Lawless and Cooper were "sacked" and that the organization was operating "over budget."

The Games’ overall budget is around $50 million, and as of late August, it had $15 million each from the B.C. and Canadian governments, Lawless told BIV at the time

Another $10 million had come from a variety of other sources, he said. 

Some corporate sponsors include presenting sponsor ATCO, as well as Sport Hosting Vancouver, Teck Resources, Alacrity Canada and Bennett Jones.

The Games’ budget is much smaller than extravaganzas such as the Olympics because it uses existing venues.

The organization hired Lawless about a year ago, and in August announced its 22-member board of directors.

By early September, the organization had hired 22 employees, including some well-known local executives, such as chief operating officer Robyn McVicker, who had been a vice-president at the Vancouver Airport Authority.

“We’ll be rising to about 100 staff, and we’ll have about 1,600 volunteers,” Lawless said in August. 

Some current hires, and many future hires were expected to be former military personnel.

The Latin word “Invictus” means “unconquered,” and was chosen as the Games’ brand to embody the fighting spirit of wounded, injured or sick veterans, who compete in a wide range of sports events.

The Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 is set to focus mostly on winter sports, although there will also be events such as swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, Lawless said in August.

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