At a meeting last Thursday at the Vatican, Sylvan Adams, Honorary President of “Big Start Israel,” invited Pope Francis to launch the start of the Giro d’Italia 2018, which will begin in May in Israel.
The Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) is an annual 21-stage bicycle race primarily held in Italy, with occasional passing through nearby countries. The race is watched by hundreds of millions of viewers in 194 countries. Since 2006, the “Giro” has commenced every other year with a high-profile “Big Start” outside Italy.
Adams, who recently became an Israeli citizen and is the driving force behind bringing the Giro d’Italia to the country, handed the Pope a special letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting the pontiff’s public blessing for the race, to send a strong message of peace, dialogue and coexistence across the world.
In his letter to the Pope, Netanyahu wrote: “The fact that the Giro starts in Jerusalem and ends in Rome bears special symbolism, reflected in the historic document ‘Between Jerusalem and Rome,’ a copy of which was presented to Your Holiness on August 31. This event, which is endorsed by the Italian government, will be one of the highlights of the festivities marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and is part of our joint effort to deepen interfaith dialogue and promote peace.”
During his meeting with Pope Francis, Sylvan Adams said that “the upcoming race in Israel is further testimony to the power of sport to transcend politics and division and focus solely on sportsmanship. Jew, Christian, and Muslim; Israeli, Italian, and Arab, and many others from all the continents of this earth, all competing together in this Giro of Peace. The winner of the race is immaterial; we are all winners in this beautiful demonstration.”
“Being a sportsman implies competing with honor and respecting one’s opponents, irrespective of the outcome. One must be a good loser, but more importantly, a generous winner. If this exemplary ethos were more often followed in other disciplines, we would live in a better world,” Adams noted.
The “Big Start’ of the Giro d’Italia will feature 22 international cycling teams, and is expect to attract thousands of tourists.