- Faster, higher...holier.
The newly-formed Vatican Athletics team, which is aiming to compete in international competitions, including the Olympics, was officially launched on Thursday after reaching a bilateral agreement with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
"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 said. But in the immediate future Vatican Athletics would like to be present at smaller competitions such as the Mediterranean Games.
"It will be necessary to affiliate with other federations," he told Vatican News.
"I'm sure this will happen, today we have started a courageous and winning start up."
The CONI agreement allows the team to take part in national and internationally sanctioned events and to have access to Italian national coaching and medical facilities. Team members wearing navy track suits with the Holy See's crossed keys seal were present at the launch.
Two young Muslim asylum-seekers Jallow Buba, a 20-year-old Gambian, and Anszou Ciss?, a 19-year-old Senegalese, have also been registered as honorary members.
Vatican pharmacist and runner Michela Ciprietti said she welcomed the initiative as "sport is the means of bringing people together." The team's first official event will be the Corsa di Miguel on January 20, a 10km race in Rome honouring Miguel Sanchez, an Argentine distance runner who disappeared during the country's dictatorship.
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