IOC President welcomes message from His Holiness Pope Francis that sport can “build bridges of peace in the world”

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His Holiness Pope Francis has expressed his hope that the Olympic Games Paris 2024 can build bridges and break down barriers. In an address to the members of the “Athletica Vaticana” sports association this weekend, he said: “It is significant that this meeting of ours takes place in the first days of 2024, which is the Olympic and Paralympic year. Thinking back to the value of the ‘Olympic Truce’, my hope is that, in the particularly dark historical moment we are living, sport can build bridges, break down barriers, and foster peaceful relations.”

He went on praising the power of sport to unite the world: “Sport is a means to express one’s talents, but also to build society. Sport teaches us the value of fraternity.”

IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the message from His Holiness Pope Francis, and said in a statement: “Thank you, Pope Francis, for your renewed and unequivocal commitment to the peace and solidarity mission of the Olympic Movement. Thank you for your strong support.” The Holy Father has been a great supporter of the peace-building role of sport and particularly the Olympic Games.

In his speech, the Pope also described sport as a powerful metaphor for our lives: “We are not islands: on the pitch, it does not matter where a person comes from, what language or culture they speak,” he said. “What counts is the commitment and the common goal. This unity in sport is a powerful metaphor for our lives. It reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all members of the same human family. Sport has the power to unite people, regardless of their physical, economic or social abilities. It is an instrument of inclusion that breaks down barriers and celebrates diversity.”

“Sport also shows us that we can confront our limits with patience and determination. Every athlete, through discipline and commitment, teaches us that, with faith and perseverance, we can achieve goals we never thought possible. This message of hope and courage is crucial, especially for the young,” said His Holiness Pope Francis.

“I encourage every one of you to see sport as a path of life that may help you to build a more united community,” he concluded.

 

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