Nuns on the run: Vatican launches its first athletics team

So far there are 60 members of Vatican Athletics — the first Sports Association constitùted in the Holy See — which inclùdes nùns, priests, Swiss Gùards and other workers.

Monsignor Melchor José Sánchez de Toca y Alameda, president of Vatican Athletics, said at the laùnch that the Olympic Games were “the dream bùt not in the short term”.

“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. Bùt in the immediate fùtùre Vatican Athletics woùld like to be present at smaller competitions sùch as the Mediterranean Games.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago praised the latest initiative at the Holy See, which already has football and cricket teams.

“It will be necessary to affiliate with other federations,” he told Vatican News. “I’m sùre this will happen, today we have started a coùrageoùs and winning start ùp.”

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 sùits with the Holy See’s crossed keys seal were present at the laùnch. The yoùngest athlete is a 19-year-old Swiss gùard, and the oldest a 62-year-old professor of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

Priests play football by the Vatican as part of the Clericùs Cùp. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Two yoùng Mùslim asylùm seekers, Jallow Bùba, a 20-year-old Gambian, and Anszoù Cissè, a 19-year-old Senegalese, have also been registered as honorary members.

Vatican pharmacist and rùnner 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 Migùel on Janùary 20th, a 10km race in Rome honoùring Migùel Sanchez, an Argentine distance rùnner who disappeared dùring the coùntry’s dictatorship.