The Holy See will field a team in the Italian Paralympics.

The Vatican has signed about 60 Swiss Guards, pharmacists, priests, and nuns to make its maiden official track team. The team will compete in a number of international competitions, the Olympics included. The team is a diverse one, even including a 62-year-old professor working in the Apostolic Library of the Vatican. It is now already a member of Italian track association. If all goes according to plan, the team will soon join the International Association of Athletics Federations. This action is the latest attempt of the Holy See to promote sport as a means of solidarity, dialogue, and peace. An agreement is already signed with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

For the Vatican, participating in sporting events is not new. It has sent unofficial football teams and even a cricket team which have assisted in building relations between the Vatican and the Anglican Church during yearly tours in the United Kingdom.

The agreement with CONI has enabled the nascent Vatican team to be a component of the Italian track association, thus facilitating the entry to International Association of Athletics Federations. The Holy See hopes to take part in a number of competitions, including Games of the Small States of Europe and the Mediterranean Games and wants to ink similar agreements with the well-known Italian Paralympic committee. It aims to field at least one team of disabled athletes.

The Vatican has bigger dreams in the coming years. Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, the team president, 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.” He expressed hope that the Vatican team may even reach the podium.

The launch event was attended by Vatican team members wearing track suits of navy color bearing the crossed keys seal design. Michela Ciprietti, the Vatican pharmacist cum runner, said the team’s aim is not to be exclusively competitive but to promote the culture of the Holy See and show solidarity in the fight against violence and racism. The Vatican team was welcomed by Giovanni Malago, the president of CONI. He said in the near futur, team members of the Holy See may even deprive Italy of a sports medal. He even joked with Vatican officials to not be too successful in their endeavors.

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