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Italian Paralympians will stay in a Catholic parish during the 2016 Rio Games

2016-05-12

The values of sport and faith will merge during the next Olympic Games this summer 2016. The Italian Paralympic team will stay at Immaculate Conception Parish in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics starting in September.

LUCA Pancalli
President, Italian Paralympic Committee
"This time we did not want to choose a private accommodation, but we wanted our delegation— following the values the Pope wants to communicate during the Jubilee of Mercy—to pay more attention to the essentials. It's an Italian House which—to celebrate our medals and communicate our values, I always say that we carry healthy values—may also leave something in the city of Rio, a tangible sign of our presence.”

For example, one of these signs is a sports field for young blind people in one of the favelas, or slums, of Rio. 

The Pontifical Council for Culture serves as a bridge between the Italian Paralympic Committee and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.

CARD. GIANFRANCO RAVASI
President, Pontifical Council for Culture
"Sports, like music, are two universal languages today. They are a form of communication, especially among young fundamental people. So we can say they truly are the common language."

Nearly 100 athletes and the accompanying team will stay in this parish in place of a hotel. It is a welcomed idea among athletes.

MARTINA Caironi
Olympic flag bearer
"I think that choosing a parish to stay in is very human and it also sends a message of true integration."

Since the team headquarters are a parish, they have thought about offering activities such as exhibitions or special evenings to include anyone they want. For example, they will host a food tasting and the Olympic team will be accompanied by a renowned Italian television chef.

CHEF RUBIO
"We will combine our country and our host. We have several ideas that we will offer athletes, but we will try to see what products we can bring from Italy and what we can find there. It will be exciting."

And as a symbol of this commitment between the Vatican and the Olympics in Rio, Cardinal Ravasi was the first to receive the official jersey from the Paralympic delegation.

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