HOLY SEE RUNNERS: Vatican launches track team to compete in Olympics
January 10, 2019
January 10, 2019 10:49 AM EST
Athletes of the Athletica Vatican team pose for the media in front of St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican launched an official track team Thursday with the aim of competing in international competitions as part of an agreement signed with the Italian Olympic Committee.
About 60 Holy See runners — Swiss Guards, priests, nuns, pharmacists and even a 62-year-old professor who works in the Vatican’s Apostolic Library — are the first accredited members of Vatican Athletics. It’s the latest iteration of the Holy See’s long-standing promotion of sport as an instrument of dialogue, peace and solidarity.
Because of the agreement with CONI, the team is now a part of the Italian track association and is looking to join the International Association of Athletics Federations. It is hoping to compete in international competitions, including the Games of the Small States of Europe — open to states with fewer than 1 million people — and the Mediterranean Games.
“The dream that we have often had is to see the Holy See flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic Games,” said Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, team president and the head of the Vatican’s sports department in the culture ministry.
But he said that was neither a short-term nor medium-term goal, and that for now the Vatican was looking to participate in competitions that had cultural or symbolic value.
“We might even podium,” he noted.
Vatican pharmacist-runner Michela Ciprietti told a Vatican press conference the aim of the team isn’t exclusively competitive, but rather to “promote culture and running and launch the message of solidarity and the fight against racism and violence of all types.”
Team members wearing matching navy warm-up suits bearing the Holy See’s crossed keys seal attended the launch. Also on hand were two honorary members of the team, migrants who don’t work for the Vatican but are training and competing with the team, as well as a handful of disabled athletes. The Vatican aims to sign similar agreements with the Italian Paralympic committee.
CONI president Giovanni Malago welcomed the birth of the Vatican team, even though he acknowledged that it might one day deprive Italy of a medal.
“Just don’t get too big,” he told Vatican officials at the launch, recalling how an athlete from another tiny country — Majlinda Kelmendi — won Kosovo’s first Olympic medal when she defeated Italian rival Odette Giuffrida in the final of the women’s 52-kilogram judo event at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
In recent years, the Vatican has fielded unofficial soccer teams and a cricket team that has helped forge relations with the Anglican church through annual tours in Britain. The track team, however, is the first one to have a legal status in Vatican City and to be an official part of the Italian sporting umbrella, able to compete in nationally and internationally sanctioned events and take advantage of the Italian national coaching, scientific and medical resources.
While St. John Paul II was known for his athleticism — he was an avid skier — Pope Francis is more of a fan, a longtime supporter of his beloved San Lorezo soccer team in Argentina.
Vatican Athletics’ first official outing is the Jan. 20 “La Corsa di Miguel” (Miguel’s Race), a 10-kilometre race in Rome honouring Miguel Sanchez, an Argentine distance runner who was one of the thousands of young people who “disappeared” during the country’s Dirty War.
The choice is significant: Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was a young Jesuit superior in Argentina during the military dictatorship’s crackdown on alleged leftist dissidents. http://torontosun.com/news/weird/holy-see-runners-vatican-launches-track-team-to-compete-in-olympics
Brother of four-time Olympic gold medalist charged with triple homicide
August 30, 2019
August 30, 2019 6:31 PM EDT
Simone Biles with her brother, Tevin Biles-Thomas.Twitter
The brother of U.S.A gymnastics four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles — arguably the greatest female gymnast of all time — has been charged with a triple homicide that occurred on New Year’s Eve in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tevin Biles-Thomas, 24, was arrested Thursday and has been charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, and perjury, Cleveland.com reports.
The alleged triple homicide occurred at an AirBnB where Biles-Thomas, an active-duty U.S. Army soldier, started shooting Devaughn Gibson, 23, a barber; DelVaunte Johnson, 19, a student; and Toshon Banks, 21, a labourer.
All were found dead with multiple gunshot wounds when police arrived.
The shooting allegedly started after the three men showed up uninvited to the party being held at the AirBnB.
A fight broke out and the situation quickly escalated. The shooter fled the scene before police arrived.
Two others were injured in the volley of gunfire, a 21-year-old who suffered a gunshot wound to the back of his head as well as a 23-year-old woman who was shot in the arm.
“The relentless persistence of Cleveland police homicide detectives helped secure an indictment in this case,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said in a statement.
“It is through their hard work that we can begin to seek justice for these victims,” it read.
After news of her brother’s arrest was spread by media outlets, Simone sent out a tweet that said, “eating my feelings don’t talk to me.”
Biles’ brother is the only one charged in connection with the shooting that took place nine months ago.
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In a statement, Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams said: “The investigators within the Cleveland Police Homicide Unit remained committed to securing an arrest in this tragic case,” adding, “We appreciate our partnership with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and are confident that their efforts will bring justice for the families affected by this terrible incident.”
Biles-Thomas was held without bond in Georgia and is set to next appear in court on Sept. 13 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for arraignment.
Calls grow to relocate 2022 Winter Olympic Games from China
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Feb 17, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 3 minute read
A journalist looks at a display at the exhibition centre for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Yaqing district, Beijing, China, Feb. 5, 2021. Photo by Kevin Frayer /Getty Images
With the Beijing Winter Games less than a year away, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) are looking closely at human rights abuses in China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday as calls to move the 2022 Games continue to grow.
“In regards to the Olympics, we continue to be very, very vocal in standing up for human rights around the world and calling out human rights abuses, as I have personally in the past directly with Chinese leadership, among many others,” Trudeau told reporters during his daily press briefing.
“We know that the International Olympic Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and others are looking very closely at this issue and we will certainly continue to follow carefully.”
While Trudeau offered a measured response to what is becoming an increasingly tricky position, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and Green Party leader Annamie Paul were more direct.
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O’Toole told reporters on Tuesday it was not appropriate for China to host the world’s biggest sporting event in light of its human rights abuses, calling the country’s treatment of the Uighur minority in its Xinjiang region a genocide.
China has been widely condemned for its complexes in Xinjiang, which it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism. It denies accusations of abuse.
Paul, meanwhile, urged the Canadian government to support the relocation of the 2022 Winter Olympics set for Feb. 4-20 and for the country to step in as a replacement venue.
“What more evidence does your government need to see before it concludes whether or not a genocide is occurring in China,” said O’Toole calling out the Trudeau Liberals during his morning briefing. “And given we’re even discussing the possibility of a genocide, is Beijing an appropriate venue for the Olympics?”
China’s human rights record has for years been a source of dispute with Western governments. China routinely dismisses Western complaints about its rights record.
With the possibility of a federal election in Canada later this year, O’Toole could be in a far stronger position to decide on the country’s participation in the 2022 Winter Games if elected Prime Minister.
None of the three party leaders, however, mentioned a boycott.
The COC earlier in February came out strongly against boycott rumblings, saying such a move would only punish athletes and do nothing to force a change in China’s human rights record or bring home two Canadian men detained in the country for more than two years.
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China’s detention of businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig has become a sore point with Canadians, a July poll finding more than half of those questioned believed Ottawa should take more aggressive action to secure the release of the two men who face spying charges.
Canada views their detention as retribution for the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant.
“It is in fact the federal government that ultimately decides whether our nation’s athletes will take part in an Olympics,” Paul said in a statement.
“While the Green Party also believes strongly in the power of sport, China has proven itself to be highly resistant to liberalizing human rights.
“The Green Party believes Canada should consider whether it would be feasible to offer itself as an alternative venue for the 2022 Olympics.”
Canada has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, 1988 in Calgary and 2010 in Vancouver.