(Vatican Radio) This summer the Italian Olympic and Paralympic teams competed at the
London 2012 games bringing back a significant medal haul. Team Italy won 28 Olympic
medals including 8 Gold and 28 Paralympic medals of which 9 were Gold. On Monday in
the Clementine Hall in the Vatican, Pope Benedict paid tribute to this sporting excellence
when he received in audience the delegation of the Italian Olympic Committee.
The Pope expressed his understanding of the harsh discipline and preparation needed to get to Olympic level.
The Holy Father also highlighted the fact that every sport both amateur and competitive, requires fairness in competition, respect for the body, and a sense of solidarity.
Sport, he said, is important because it reveals man to himself and gives him a profound understanding of the value of his life.
Speaking to those present, Pope Benedict said that sport’s managers, as well as coaches, and sports operators in general, are called to be witnesses of the good of humanity, cooperating with families and educational institutions for the education of young people, in order to achieve the best in sport.
The Pope also noted that the pressure to achieve significant results must never push sports people to take shortcuts as in the case of doping. Team spirit, he said is an incentive to avoid these dead ends, but also to support those who acknowledge a mistake.
In conclusion, the Holy Father emphasized that in this Year of Faith sport can educate a person to 'spiritual "competitiveness" . It can also be considered, he added, a modern "Court of the Gentiles," that is, a valuable opportunity to meet believers and non-believers, to experience joy and to encounter people of different cultures, languages and religions. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report