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A view of the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics A view of the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics  (AFP or licensors)

Vatican delegation invited to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has for the first time formally invited a delegation from the Holy See to attend the inauguration of the Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea on the 9th February.

By Lydia O'Kane

The delegation will be led by the under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca, and from 5 to 7 February they will also attend an Olympic session of IOC members as observers.

As a sign of friendship, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca will present the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, and Korean athletes with t-shirts of “Vatican Athletics”, the team composed of employees of the Holy See that the Secretariat of State has placed under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The aim of the team is to inspire solidarity and friendship in sport.

In 2016 the Vatican was represented at the Olympic summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite the fact that the Vatican does not have a team directly participating at the games, the friendship and collaboration continues between the IOC and the Holy See, with several projects, such as the Olympic Youth Games scheduled for October 2018 in Buenos Aires.

Holy See and the IOC

Speaking ahead of his departure to Pyeongchang, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca explained that this is just a step along a long road of relations between the Holy See and the International Olympic Committee. “I was invited as a distinguished guest to the opening of the Rio Olympic Games, but now this relationship has been brought to a higher level. The International Olympic Committee has addressed a formal invitation to the Holy See to be present at the opening of the Olympic Games as an official delegation, so to speak”, he said.

Olympic spirit

Athletes from both North and South Korea will take part in these games and will march together at the opening ceremony. The under-secretary said that this gesture highlights “the hope of a better world…and it offers a powerful example of what a peaceful world could look like.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea takes place from the 9th to 25th of February.

Listen to the interview with Mons Sanchez de Toca
02 February 2018, 12:41