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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope to sports world: Don’t cheat people out of joy, benefits of game

Pope Francis challenged the sports world to fend off corrupt and manipulative practices and to uphold the values of honesty, fairness and transparency.

“It would be sad for sport and for humanity if people were unable to trust in the truth of sporting results, or if cynicism and disenchantment were to drown out enthusiasm” or joyful and unselfish participation, he said in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall on 5th October. He spoke during the opening ceremony of a world conference on faith and sport hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, which will take place from 6th to 7th October.

The event began with Italian footballer Alessandro del Piero entering on stage, juggling a football as Italian Paralympic runner Giusy Versace sprinted down the corridors to the stage on her prosthetic running blades.

Marked with music, dancing, acrobatic martial arts and personal testimonies by athletes, the ceremony was attended by hundreds of conference participants and special guests, including Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby and representatives of major religions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also attended the opening ceremony. Chinese pianist Lang Lang provided musical interludes and a concert following the opening event.

Picture: Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, greets Pope Francis during their meeting ahead of the opening ceremony of first global conference of faith and sport at the Vatican City, on 5th October. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore via EPA).