The Vatican breaks into the sports world, launching a track and field team with Olympic aspirations

On Thursday, a new athletic team entered the fold: The Vatican's "Holy See." The team was launched with the approval of Italy's Olympic committee, CONI, and it has big aspirations. The Holy See will feature up to 60 track athletes, including everyone from nuns to maintenance workers.

The team's first race will be in nine days, and it will be allowed to join international sports federations due to CONI's backing.

"The dream that we have often had is to see the Holy See flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic Games," team president Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda said, per the Associated Press.

CONI president Giovanni Malago quipped about the team, saying that: "The more committees there are, the more medals get scattered around. So, don't get too big." 

The team has Olympic aspirations, but it recognizes that as a monumental longshot. In the short-term, the team's goal "is to promote through sport messages of solidarity, (and to) fight against racism and all kinds of violence," according to team member Michela Ciprietti. Ciprietti works at the Vatican pharmacy.

This isn't the Vatican's first foray into sport. There's also an unofficial soccer team and a cricket team.

This development is a new one, and an interesting one. It will be fascinating to see how it handles things if it defies the odds and does make an appearance on the international stage.

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