The Vatican launched its first-ever track team on Thursday with an eye to entering the Olympics. The 60-member team, which includes running nuns, Swiss Guards, priests, and even a pharmacist and professor, are already accredited with the Italian National Track Association, which sets them up to compete in Olympic trials, should any member qualify. The team, which trains in navy uniforms bearing the Holy See’s crossed keys seal, includes disabled athletes who may be able to eventually qualify to compete with Italy’s Paralympic team. “The dream that we have often had is to see the Holy See flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic Games,” Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, the Vatican Athletics team president, who also heads the Holy See’s sports department within the culture ministry, said at the launch at the Vatican on Thursday. The purpose of the new athletic association is not just about winning, it is also to “promote culture and running and launch the message of solidarity and the fight against racism and violence of all types,” according to one of the team runners.
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