The world’s smallest nation wants to host the biggest athletic event.
The pope has endorsed Rome’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and wants Vatican City to host a small number of events. Speculation of just what sports the tiny city within a city will host centers around badminton, archery, and even soccer. The pontiff reportedly meets with the Italian Olympic Committee this week.
Rome won the rights to host the 1908 Summer Olympics. But an act of God, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, derailed the city’s hosting attempt. In 1960, Rome’s summer games witnessed less destructive acts of God, such as shoeless Abebe Bikila winning the marathon, Wilma Rudolph claiming three golds in sprinting events after polio forced her to wear a brace and an orthopedic shoe in childhood, and the Louisville Lip standing silently atop the podium for the two minutes it took to play the national anthem.
After the various national committees winnow down their lists to one city a piece, the International Olympic Committee makes its decision, presumably after much prayer and consultation with the deity, in 2017.
Rome faces competition to bring back the Olympics after a 64-year respite. Casablanca, Johannesburg, Budapest, Berlin, Nairobi, Paris, and points beyond, and in the United States, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., all pray to bring the games to their cities.
But do they have God on their side?