“That seems to me to be an excellent idea,” Portuguese cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins was quoted as telling the Quotidiano Nazionale daily’s Monday edition.
“It has never been done but the Church has always encouraged sport as a vehicle for healthy values.”
Archery, he said could be held in the Vatican’s gardens or in the little-used expanses at the Pope’s summer residence at Castelgandolfo, to the south east of Rome.
The cardinal’s eye-catching suggestion came as Italy officially announced a Rome-led bid for the Games, which the capital previously hosted in 1960.
The Olympic stadium and swimming complex built for the 1960 games are expected to be upgraded to host athletics and the acquatic events if Italy succeeds in its bid.
Other events are to be spread around the country with the sailing notably expected to be off Sardinia, the island that is a firm favourite with millionaire yacht owners.
-Prime Minister announces bid-
Italy is the first country to announce a bid taking advantage of new International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules allowing events to be staged in more than one city. Rivals in Europe and North America are expected to quickly emerge though.
Renzi announced at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) headquarters that Rome would be the centrepiece of the Games bid but that “all the cities, from Florence and Naples to Sardinia” could be involved.
“This is a challenge we would like to win. We will do everything we can until 2017 when the final decision is made,” said Renzi.
No specific details were released, although one report said the sailing events could be held around the millionaires’ paradise of Sardinia.
Rome, which held the Summer Games in 1960, shelved plans to bid for the 2020 event two years ago due to concerns over rising costs as the country battled an economic crisis. Turin held the Winter Olympics in 2006.
Renzi said there would be a campaign “committed to making sure Italy wins this match”.
“Rome will be the centrepiece of the project, then it will be up to CONI to decide which other cities will be involved,” he added.
The IOC last week passed new rules allowing the Games to be held in more than one city and encourages the use of existing facilities so hosts can spread and cut costs.
CONI president Giovanni Malago said Italy’s bid would be dynamic but low-cost.
“Less expenditure, more ideas and total transparency – our bid will revolutionary and led by a youthful team,” said Malago, who admitted the IOC’s new rules had encouraged Rome.