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Apostolic Movement

Pope Francis and his teachings on sports

The inauguration of the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games took place at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. In his teachings on sports, Francis emphasizes values such as teamwork, unity, and fair play.

The Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo 2020 were delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, at the arrival of the athletes to the Olympic Village, positive cases of coronavirus were already detected. This triggered the Japanese organization’s anti-covid protocol.

Some of the measures taken to avoid Covid19 infections are as follows:

– There will be no spectators in the stands at the stadiums.

– Hugging between athletes is not allowed.

– Olympic winners will have to put their medals around their own necks to avoid any possible contact.


Pope Francis’ teachings on sports

Pope Francis has repeatedly underlined the educational potential of sports for young people, the importance of “putting oneself on the line” and the merit of “fair play”. He also emphasized the value of a defeat because the greatness of a person is more evident when he or she falls rather than in moments of triumph, both in sports and in life.

The Pope reminded the Special Olympics athletes that sports can be “a universal language that can overcome cultural, social, religious and physical differences, and it can unite people, rendering them participants in the same game and co-protagonists of victories and defeats”.

In an address to the Italian swimmers in 2018 the Pope reflected on the value of sports, saying, “regardless of the technical results, they offer a testimony of discipline, healthy competition and team play. They show what goals can be reached through training, which involves great effort as well as sacrifices.” Pope Francis insisted on the ‘team building’ aspect. It is true that swimming is mainly an individual sport, but by practicing it in a sports society, and at a national level, it becomes a team experience in which collaboration and mutual help are very important”.



The sacred fire of passion: the Olympic torch

In his Open Letter to the Vatican Athletic Team, Francis composed a very motivational speech for the athletes preparing for the Olympic Games. He made a comparison between the flame of the Olympic Games and the burning bush in the book of Exodus. “When I think of sports, I really like the image of fire: it is bright, clean, dazzling. When it becomes a flame, it no longer produces smoke: it is mysterious, brilliant. It is the sacred fire of passion, which heats without consuming.”

Throughout his open letter, the Supreme Pontiff encouraged young athletes to pursue their dreams of victory in spite of any suffering. Along this same line, earlier this year, in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, the Pope noted: “Victory gives you a thrill that is difficult to describe, but there is also something marvelous about defeat. Wonderful victories can be born from certain defeats because you unleash the desire for redemption after identifying the mistake. I would even add that winners don’t know what they are missing out on.“

In these Olympic Games, may the athletes discover the glory of trust in the team, the value of a hug not given or of a muffled applause. May we all appreciate the fraternity of those rings united and intertwined. And may the torch of hope be lit, like a sacred fire that will not be extinguished, in our hearts.


Angelus Prayer Pope Francis – 07.25.2021

Photos:, Pixabay (Günther Simmermacher; Anncapictures)



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