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.