Pope Francis blessed the Olympic flag with holy water and greeted Brazilian Olympic athletes in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Francis, an Argentine elected pope following Pope Benedict XVI‘s resignation in March, is on a weeklong trip to Brazil, according to The Associated Press.
The Rio Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5-21, 2016.
This isn’t the first pope-Olympic interaction.
On the eve of the London Olympics, then-Pope Benedict XVI issued a message saying he hoped the 2012 Games would help promote peace and friendship. Pope John XXIII greeted Olympians in Rome for the 1960 Games.
The news comes a day after the Chicago Sun-Times ran a notable opinion column (and the front-page image to the right) about the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro over Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago four years ago.
Rio de Janeiro won the voting to become the first South American host of the Olympics.
Chicago was eliminated after the first round of voting in Copenhagen on Oct. 2, 2009. Tokyo, a finalist for the 2020 Olympics, went out in the second round. Madrid, another finalist for 2020, lost to Rio in the final round of voting.
Tokyo, Madrid or Istanbul will be chosen as host for the 2020 Olympics on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires.
Some Sochi Olympic champions will receive meteorite medals
Amy Purdy made her name as a snowboardcross bronze medalist at the Sochi Paralympics and runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014.
In September, she’ll combine both.
Purdy will perform as a dancer in the Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony on Sept. 7, in addition to being an NBC reporter during the Games.
She was told her performance will be four to five minutes. On “Dancing with the Stars,” her performances were about 90 seconds, she said. She traveled to Rio for a week of rehearsals in July.
Purdy, 36, survived bacterial meningitis in 1999 but lost both her legs and later needed a kidney from her father at age 20.
“I’m most excited about the concept of this dance,” Purdy said. “Just the idea of man versus machine. A lot of times we feel really limited because of our prosthetics. But this dance, hopefully, will kind of shatter those borders a little bit and allow me to move my body in a way I haven’t done before.”
Purdy is an innovator. She built her own snowboard and is seen as instrumental in getting her sport into the Paralympic program beginning in 2014.
A model, she’s been in a Madonna music video, a Super Bowl commercial, ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue and competed on “The Amazing Race” in 2012.
MORE: Rio Paralympic broadcast schedule
Lindsey Vonn‘s episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” will air on NBC on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.
From NBC Universal:
“After roaring across crystal-clear waters in a speedboat, Bear and Lindsey must strip down and swim to shore before inching their way along the rugged coastline. After rappelling down a sheer rock wall, the two get inventive and use a spear-gun to traverse a hundred-foot deep chasm. With the sun setting, they collect a dinner of sea urchins and Bear challenges Lindsey to a swimming competition with hilarious results. Along the way Lindsey shares her journey of love, Olympic glory, and displays the focus and determination that has made her one of the most successful female athletes of all time.”
Vonn is returning from a Feb. 27 crash that left her with three significant left knee fractures.
With 76 career World Cup wins, she is 10 shy of the record held by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark.
MORE: Lindsey Vonn wants to race men, retire in 2019