If one thing unites us as an international community, like brothers and sisters, it is sports. I warmly welcome the #VaticanAthletics teams and wish them good luck on their Olympic journey. pic.twitter.com/Fg6NcWQaW0— Caroline Weijers (@WeijersCaroline) January 10, 2019
The Vatican launched an athletics team with the aim of competing in int'l competitions, including the Olympics, as part of an agreement signed with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), according to the IRISH TIMES. About 60 Holy See runners -- Swiss Guards, priests, nuns, pharmacists and a 62-year-old professor who works in the Vatican’s Apostolic Library -- are the "first accredited members of Vatican Athletics." It is the "latest iteration of the Holy See’s longstanding promotion of sport as an instrument of dialogue, peace and solidarity." Because of the agreement with CONI, the team is currently part of the Italian track association and is "looking to join" the IAAF. It is hoping to compete in int'l competitions, including the Games of the Small States of Europe -- open to states with fewer than one million people -- and the Mediterranean Games. The Vatican "aims to sign similar agreements with the Italian Paralympic committee." Team President Monsignor Melchor Jose Sánchez de Toca y Alameda said, "The dream that we have often had is to see the Holy See flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic Games" (IRISH TIMES, 1/10).