Vatican City, Feb 6, 2018 / 13:00 pm
A delegation from the Holy See is in South Korea this week to participate in the opening of the Winter Olympic games, and for the first time, to observe a key strategic meeting ahead of opening ceremony.
Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will be the Holy See's official representative at the event. He will be accompanied by Stefano Calvigioni of the Italian Olympic Committee, who helps coordinate between his own organization, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Vatican.
Opening Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this year's games will last until Feb. 25. The main skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will take place in Pyeongchang, which is part of South Korea's Gangwon province, and sits near the border with North Korea.
Other events such as skating, hockey and curling events will take place in the city of Gangneung, about an hour's drive from Pyeongchang.
In addition to representing the Holy See at the opening ceremony, Sánchez de Toca is also participating as an observer in the Feb. 5-7 IOC Olympic Session, marking the first time they've been invited to attend the meeting.
The Holy See has been present at the Olympics before, having attended the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. However, the invite to the Olympic Session marks a first for the Vatican.
In comments to CNA, Sánchez de Toca said the Holy See received the invitation from Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, and that the invite, particularly to attend the Olympic Session, “is important,” especially since the Holy See has no Olympic committee of its own.
The IOC session is a large, general meeting in which all members of the IOC, the National Olympic Committees (NOC), the presidents of Federations of Olympic sports and other organizations meet to discuss major themes on the agenda for the Olympics. Candidate cities for future Olympic events are also chosen in the session, and numerous strategic projects are approved.