As countries gear up to announce their bid to host the greatest sports event, an unlikely contender might be in the running as well. The Pope wants the Vatican to host the 2024 Olympics alongside Italy, as he threw his support behind Rome's expected bid to host the games in a decade's time. How would the world's smallest country play host to the biggest sporting event in human history, you ask? Well, its Olympic ambitions encompass only archery and, of course, soccer.
But proving how serious he is about this, Pope Francis plans to meet with the Italian Olympic Committee on Friday for further talks. Jose Saraiva Martins, a senior cardinal, proposed locations in the Holy See — a change from the stadiums that past hosts have built exclusively for the Olympics, which quickly fell into ruin after the events — that he said the Pope would most definitely approve. The cardinal wants archery to take place in the Vatican Gardens, reported Mail Online. He added:
But why stop there? The holiday residence of the pope at Castel Gandolfo would be perfect and would also bring new energy to the people around Lake Albano. The Vatican has always encouraged sport as a vehicle of healthy values. I think Francis will approve.
Rome's Olympic aspirations seem rather audacious in light of the recession and ongoing corruption scandals the country is currently mired in. But Italy's young, reformist Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, brushed off concerns about the funding and logistics of the monumental sporting event. Renzi said at a press conference of the Olympic Committee:
You can lose, but what’s unacceptable is to crouch up and give up on playing the game. We can’t allow our problems to stop us from dreaming.
Hosting an internationally-participated sporting event can by no means be performed on a budget — just ask Brazil, who hosted this year's World Cup, what more an event where a large number of sports are included.
Italy's scandal implicated corrupt politicians in cahoots with the mafia in Rome, divesting millions of Euros off public contracts meant to serve the city, from rubbish collection to migrant housing. In a poll conducted by a prominent Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, 60 percent of respondents said that they didn't believe their economy could handle major infrastructure projects or the country's high corruption rate.
In 2012, Renzi's predecessor, Mario Monti, dropped Italy’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics, reported The Guardian, because he claimed the event was too expensive and hosting it would be an irresponsible use of taxpayer's money. Despite Italy's current $2.6 trillion debt, Renzi argued:
If they were to wait for things to be easy, they wouldn’t be athletes.
If Italy manages to pull this pretty amazing feat, Renzi can at least take heart in the knowledge that his government wouldn't have to splurge on a stadium in the Vatican — seeing as two venues there, thanks to Pope Francis, are already at his disposal.
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