Further strengthening Malta’s relations with the Holy See

Further strengthening Malta’s relations with the Holy See

As part of the commitment that the Malta Tourism Authority and the Ministry for Tourism have embarked on, even as part of the ten-year strategy launched last year for the sector to think outside the box when undertaking brand exposure initiatives, the VisitMalta brand will now be given exclusive visibility on the kits of Athletica-Vaticana Vatican Cycling.

Athletica Vaticana-Vatican Cycling is an official member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) since 24 September 2021 when the 190th UCI Congress was held in Leuven, Belgium.

Athletica Vaticana began its service among sportsmen and women in track and field four years ago. It is made up of citizens of the Vatican City, employees of the Holy See and their immediate family members. In addition to the UCI, Athletica Vaticana is an official member of the International Padel Federation and of the World Taekwondo and is currently initiative the process to become an official member of World Athletics.

Athletica Vaticana-Vatican Cycling will be participating, and for the first time, in the Cycling World Championships in Australia later this month. In Australia the team will be accompanied by Emiliano Morbidelli, Vatican-Cycling President; Simone Ciocchetti, Secretary General; and Valerio Agnoli, Foreign Relations Representative and Technical Commissioner. The team was also present in Malta for the Athletics Championships of the 18 Small States of Europe and in Oran in Algeria for the Mediterranean Games earlier this year.

In light of this, His Holiness Pope Francis, in a message, "nominated" Athletica Vaticana "ambassador of the Pope" among sportspeople, precisely because “Athletica-Vaticana bears concrete witness to the solidarity inherent in sport, to the supportive face of sport".

Giampaolo Mattei, President of Athletica-Vaticana said that the team “is extremely happy to have established this connection with Malta, particularly because it echoes the Apostolic Journey which the Holy Father made in Malta earlier this year. Moreover, the team was in Malta during the Championship of Small States where we won our first bronze medal, apart from our Cricket team who was also in Malta for several matches. During his Journey to Malta, Pope Francis had described Malta as an ideal “rose of winds”, and through this relationship we would like to embark on our own journey, inspired by the “rose of winds” metaphor, embracing a friendship through sport, bringing people together, creating space for dialogue and peace, always based on the Holy Father’s speeches when he was in Malta earlier this year.”

VisitMalta’s presence on Athletica-Vaticana is another perfect example of how we are planning to diversify Malta’s tourism product in the years to come. Through this collaboration, we will be cementing Malta’s prospects in the fields of various tourism niches that primarily include faith tourism and sports tourism. Malta is blessed on all fronts as far as these cornerstones of tourism are concerned, however we are working hard to walk the extra mile and catapult Malta’s tourism industry on the forefront of the Maltese economy,” outlined Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo.

Malta and the Holy See share a bond which unites them on various levels, and we are proud, as VisitMalta, that, through our donation, which also falls part of our Marketing endeavours, sport will now be another link in this chain, between two of the smallest states in the European continent. We also feel, as an Authority that this donation and this new relationship will help to further give exclusive visibility to the VisitMalta brand in international sport events, which are in turn broadcast to millions of people around the world. Undoubtedly, the warmth and affection received by His Holiness Pope Francis from the people of Malta and Gozo bears testament to just how successful this new relationship is going to be,” Mr Carlo Micallef, CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority added.