Sylvan Adams [L] and Pope Francis [R] .
(photo credit: DAN KOSKY)
Canadian-Israeli real-estate magnate Sylvan Adams met Pope Francis on Thursday and invited him to come to Israel to launch the opening of the Giro d’Italia bicycle race for the upcoming year.
The Italian race will begin in Israel during May 2018 where 175 cyclists from around the world will gather in Jerusalem and then ride from north Israel to the Red Sea before moving on to complete the Giro in Italy.
Adams said that “The upcoming race in Israel is further testimony to the power of sports to transcend politics and division.”
He went on to say that regardless of who the riders might be, Jews or Arabs, Italians or Israeli, “all [will be] competing together in this Giro of Peace.”
Adams himself is an expert cyclist and the Canadian Jewish news reported
that he won the Canadian cycling championship 6 times.
Adams also presented the Pope with a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the Israeli leader requested the head of the Catholic Church to honor the race with a public blessing.
President Reuven Rivlin invited the Pope to visit Israel as an honored guest for the 70th Israeli Independence Day celebrations to be held on April 18 2018, when the two of them met.
Under Israeli law, it is the Hebrew date of the foundation of the state of Israel that counts, which is why there’s a discrepancy of dates according to the Gregorian calendar, by which the state was founded on May 14th, 1948.
The Giro d’Italia has been held in Italy since 1909 when Tullo Morgagni, who was the editor of the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
, created it.
The Israeli Giro will be a historical first, as the race has never begun outside of Europe before. Thousands of tourists are expected to come to Israel for the event, which is one of the largest cycling events in the world.