Nuns and priests aim for Olympics with new Vatican athletics team

Swiss Guards are among the others to have joined Athletica Vaticana

Nuns and priests aim for Olympics with new Vatican athletics team

Athletes of the Athletic Vatican sports team run for the media in front of St. Peter's basilica. Picture by: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

The Vatican has launched an official athletics team which it hopes will one day compete in international sporting competitions - including the Olympics.

"Athletica Vaticana" is the first sports association established in the Vatican following an agreement with the Italian Olympic Committee.

It currently has 62 accredited athletes, including priests, nuns and Swiss Guards.

Other members include pharmacists and a 62-year-old professor who works in the Vatican's Apostolic Library.

Picture by: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

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

He added that the team will be first looking to take part in competitions of cultural or symbolic value.

Italian Olympic chief Giovanni Malago welcomed the formation of the new team - joking that they shouldn't 'get too big' and deprive Italy of a medal.

The new team's first outing is on January 20th with the 10km Corsa di Miguel in Rome.

The race honours Miguel Sanchez - an Argentine runner who disappeared after being kidnapped during his country's so-called Dirty War in the 1970s.