Vatican City: Pope Francis on Friday congratulated world athletes before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and urged them to "always be messengers of goodwill and true sporting spirit". "Good luck to the athletes at #Rio2016! May you always be messengers of goodwill and true sporting spirit," said the pontiff via Twitter, which was translated into nine languages. At the conclusion of his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis delivered his message for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, urging athletes to "fight the good fight" and finish the race together and to achieve as a reward "the construction of a civilisation in which solidarity reigns and is based upon the recognition that we are all members of the same human family, regardless of the differences of culture, skin colour, or religion". The pope has on many occasions defended the social value of sport and his messages in this regard have been repeated in recent days ahead of the start of the Olympic Games in Rio, reports Efe.