Pope Francis meets delegation of NBA players at Vatican in maskless meeting over social justice Photograph:( Reuters )
Pope Franchise hosted a delegation of NBA players and union officials at the Vatican in a bid to discuss the wide-ranging issues of racial equality and social justice. The delegation of five players and five union executives met with Pope Franchise in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace on Monday, presenting gifts and discussed their share of experiences in tacking racism and social injustice.
Pope Francis hosted a delegation of NBA players and union officials at the Vatican in a bid to discuss the wide-ranging issues of racial equality and social justice. The delegation of five players and five union executives met with Pope Francis in the papal library of the Apostolic Palace on Monday, presenting gifts and discussed their share of experiences in tacking racism and social injustice. Interestingly, no one wore a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
Photos and videos from the meeting showed at least 16 people sitting and exchanging gifts and opinions with no masks and almost no social-distancing measures.
The National Basketball Players Association (NLBPA) confirmed that the members of the delegation underwent COVID-19 tests before meeting Pope Francis, in accordance with the Vatican protocols.
Pope Francis, 83, over the months, has received criticism for rarely wearing a mask while meeting people indoors.
Notably, the US has reported around 12 million coronavirus cases with death toll north to 250,000 from the virus – the most in the world.
The NBA player delegation included the likes of Sterling Brown and Kyle Korver of Milwaukee Bucks, Anthony Tolliver of the Memphis Grizzlies, Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic and Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs. Belinelli spoke to the Pope in Italian.
“Today's meeting validates the power of our players' voices,” NLBPA executive director Michele Roberts said. “That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms.”
The NBA became central to political storm this year in the aftermath of the massive Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest across the US after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, under police custody. Players boycotted matches after another African-American man Jacob Blake was shot dead by police in Wisconsin.
Korver stated that players were honoured to share their experiences with Pope Francis. “His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward,” Korver said.
Pope Francis’s book is due out on December 1 in which he has supported demands for racial justice among many other social causes.