The Vatican launched an official track team with the aim of competing in international competitions as part of an agreement signed with the Italian Olympic Committee on Thursday.

About 60 Holy See runners including Swiss Guards, priests, nuns, pharmacists and library professors are the first accredited members of the team.

Team members wearing new navy track suits branded with Holy See's crossed keys attended the launch ceremony.

Prototype team kit was also put on display for public view.

President of the Italian National Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago said since the sport "became transnational, it's impossible to exclude some nationalities."

"Competition between small nations is a good idea," he added.

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