Whichever faith they follow, competitors coming to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will find a place to worship in the athletes’ village. The Inter-religious centre at the Olympic and Paralympic Village will serve athletes of every faith, says coordinator, Father Leandros.
“Our job is to provide athletes with a place where they can find comfort and spiritual peace, whatever their religion,” says Father Leandro Lenin, the coordinator of the inter-religious centre at the Olympic and Paralympic Village. “We are a symbol of peace, brotherhood and the unity of peoples.”
Representatives of some of the world’s most globalised religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism – will be available at the centre from 7am to 10pm, from 24 July to 21 September.
Athletes and officials who follow other faiths can also request spiritual assistance at the centre. “We are able to accept people from any religion, including spiritism and Afro-Brazilian religions such as candomblé and umbanda,” Father Lenin says.
“Everyone who works at the centre is active in inter-faith dialogue. We will use our network of contacts to provide any athlete with the religious support they need.”
At the village, each of the five religions with a permanent presence will have their own space of worship, each with capacity for about 50 people at any time. Four Roman Catholic chaplains and four Protestant chaplains will serve at the centre. The other religions will have four representatives each.
With more than 17,000 athletes and officials expected to be living in the village at the busiest period of the Games, the multi-faith centre is prepared for high demand for spiritual support and religious services.
‘Brotherhood between religions’
All of the religious officials working at the village speak foreign languages and are actively involved in inter-faith dialogue.
“We all believe in dialogue and brotherhood between religions,” Father Lenin says.”Our mission is to provide athletes in the village with whatever spiritual assistance they may need.”
On New Year’s Eve on Copacabana beach, a follower of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé makes a traditional offering to the goddess of the sea (Photo: Getty Images/Mario Tama)