Vatican Athletics
Vatican Athletics logo
Country/Region Vatican City
Created2019 (2019)
PresidentMelchor Sánchez de Toca Alameda

Vatican Athletics (Latin: Athletica Vaticana) is a sports organization associated with Vatican City. Established as an athletics club of the city state, it has been described as the Vatican's first official sports federation. The athletics club is affiliated with the Italian Athletics Federation.

The organization is home to the Vatican's cycling and taekwondo associations, which became members of the UCI and World Taekwondo respectively in 2021.[1][2] Vatican Athletics' padel association is also a member of the non-Olympic International Padel Federation.[3] As of March 2023, cricket and Paralympic sports teams have become part of Vatican Athletics, with plans to also incorporate fencing, basketball and potentially football.[4]

Vatican City is not yet eligible to compete at the Olympic Games, as that would require the affiliation of the country to the governing bodies of at least five Olympic sports.[5]


The Holy See and the Italian Olympic Committee had an agreement to set up an official athletics team with the intention making the Vatican City able to compete in international sporting tournaments including the Summer Olympics.[6] The Vatican will have to secure membership of the International Association of Athletics Federations to be able to compete internationally as well as set up a National Olympic Committee to be able to participate in the Olympics.[7]

Vatican Athletics was launched on 10 January 2019 with 60 initial accredited members which includes Swiss Guards, nuns, priests, museum workers, and maintenance workers as well as two migrant Muslim Africans as honorary members.[8] Vatican Athletics is the first sports team to have legal status in the Vatican and is officially affiliated with the Italian Athletics Federation.[6]

The first podium finish of Vatican Athletics was at the Maratona di Messina, a marathon in Messina. Don Vincenzo Puccio, a Sicilian priest, won a silver medal for the team.[9]

As a national team, Vatican Athletics are aiming to participate in the Games of the Small States of Europe.[7] They attempted to make a debut in the 2019 edition, but they, along with the Faroe Islands, were barred from participating due to an absence of a national Olympic committee.[10]

In 2021, the International Cycling Union was the first Olympic sports federation to admit Vatican Athletics to their ranks.[11]

In 2022, one athlete represented the Vatican City at the Mediterranean Games in Algeria in a non-scoring manner.[12]

Team image

Vatican Athletics uses a render of the Vatican coat of arms which consists of two keys and a papal tiara as its symbol. The team's uniform are in blue, yellow, and white; the latter two being colors found in the Vatican flag. The team have Italian firm Erreà as its official uniform supplier.[13]

See also


  1. ^ ""Christ on a bike!" Vatican City officially becomes a UCI cycling federation; Some cyclists are rejoicing at UK petrol shortages; Ineos switch to Bioracer for 2022; Disc brake 'conspiracy' comments; Ex-pro banned for 9 years + more on the live blog". 2021-09-24. Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  2. ^ "[World Taekwondo] World Taekwondo officially recognises Vatican Taekwondo as." Retrieved 2021-11-25.
  3. ^ "Vatican State becomes a member of the Padel World Federation". 2022-05-01. Retrieved 2024-01-18.
  4. ^ "Il volto solidale dello sport" [The supportive face of sport]. L'Osservatore Romano (in Italian). 2023-03-04. Retrieved 2024-01-18.
  5. ^ Nelsen, Matt (2022-07-05). "The Vatican seeks to chart a new path in the Olympic Movement". Infobae (in Spanish). Retrieved 2024-01-18.
  6. ^ a b "Nuns on the run: Vatican launches athletics team and targets Olympics". The Guardian. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b Pavitt, Michael (11 January 2019). "Vatican establish athletics association but several hurdles remain before potential Olympic inclusion". Inside the Games. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ Picheta, Rob; Borghese, Livia (11 January 2019). "Godspeed! Vatican launches official athletics team". CNN. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Vatican athletics team secures first success". Wanted in Rome. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Europe's tiniest states square off in the Olympic mini-games". The Economist. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  11. ^ "190th Congress of the UCI". UCI. 24 September 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Vatican City primed for debut at Mediterranean Games".
  13. ^ O’Loughlin, Michael (8 March 2019). "Meet the Vatican team running for the greater glory of God (and maybe the Olympics)". America Magazine. Retrieved 28 June 2019.