Dubai: Three-time world champion Peter Sagan’s bicycle is among the first items on auction for the Pope Francis charity fund-raising initiative that kicked off earlier this week.
At midnight on June 18, the world will know exactly how much Sagan’s bike has been sold for on behalf of ‘We Run Together’, a charity fund-raising auction to provide support for medical personnel in hospitals in the northern Italian cities of Brescia and Bergamo.
The auction — to be held every week from June 8 August 8 with objects being auctioned on fund-raising website charitystars.com — is an initiative organised by Athletica Vaticana (the Vatican’s first sports association), Fiamme Gialle (the sports section of the Italian police force), the Courtyard of the Gentiles (a Vatican platform for open dialogue on faith and culture), and Fidal-Lazio (the Italian federation for light athletics).
In a generous show of solidarity, athletes from all over Italy are participating in ‘We Run Together’ with auction items including objects and awards donated by multi-medal Olympic champions and some articles offered personally by Pope Francis himself.
The auctions kicked off on June 8 with Pope Francis’ personalised Venge bike customised with the yellow and white colours of the Holy See that the Holy Father received from Sagan. The bike also carries an imprint of the Argentina flag, and it has also been signed on top of the crossbar by the Pope.
With exactly a week to go before the bike auction concludes on June 18, the cycle has so far received 31 bids from across the world with the last one standing at 11,500 euros (Dh48,000).
Other objects that are being auctioned include competitive equipment and jerseys from several athletes, including Alex Zanardi’s Italy jersey that he wore at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Francesco Totti’s signed captain’s armband along with the Roma shirt from his last match on May 28, 2017 when he came on as a substitute for Mohammad Salah in the 54th minute in Roma’s 3-2 home win against Genoa.
There will also be the possibility of going on a tour of Italy’s America’s Cup representative ‘Luna Rossa’, the sailing boat currently docked in the harbour of Cagliari in Sardinia. The opening act of the America’s Cup World Series was scheduled to be held in Cagliari from April 23-26. Some athletes have offered the opportunity of having dinner with some of the auction winners.
In May, Pope Francis had met with a small delegation of athletes billed to participate in the charity initiative in his private library at the Vatican. On that occasion, he had expressed joy at the initiative and reminded them of the example of medieval pilgrims who walked “in step with the weakest”.
Pope Francis likened the theme ‘We Run Together’ to the loosely translated Latin phrase “simul currebant” from the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John. John and Peter, upon hearing that Jesus has risen, ran together to the tomb. However, even though John arrived first, he did not go in. Rather, he waited for Peter and granted him the privilege of making the first entrance — almost in the spirit of ‘fair play’ in sports.