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Thousands of paralympic athletes will meet with Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square

2014-06-16

The Vatican is on a sports roll. After welcoming 50,000 young athletes, it's now getting ready to celebrate the achievements of paralympic athletes.

LUCA PANCALLI
President, Italian Paralympic Committee
"For the first time, Via della Conciliazione and the Vatican will be decked out in the colors of the paralympic world. For the first time, it will become an outdoor training center where our boys and girls will show everything they've learned to do thanks to sports.”

Pope Francis will start off this unique assembly on Saturday, October 4th, with an audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. It'll end the following day with the Sunday Angelus at St. Peter's Square. The theme for the assembly is "Believe To Be Alive.”

LUCA PANCALLI
President, Italian Paralympic Committee
"It's about believing that life doesn't end after an accident that leaves you in a difficult or 'different,' situation, so to speak. Or if you were born with a disability. To believe that yes, it can be done.”

For the Italian Paralympic Committee president, the Pope reflects a good example of this, by showing his closeness to people with disabilities. Since they know he's an avid sports fan, the committee will give him a ping pong table. 

LUCA PANCALLI
President, Italian Paralympic Committee
"We hope that he decides to come down and play ping pong with one of us. It would be amazing. We're hopeful because, more than a discipline, it's also a game. And who didn't played ping-pong as a kid?”

The exact number of how many athletes will attend is still unclear. But for now, organizers estimate about 5,000 from around the world.

But statistics aside, the Italian Paralympic Committee said they want to use this event as a platform to promote a message of hope, inclusion and achievement.


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