Pope says will not be around in 10 years

Pope Francis says he won't be attending the 2024 Olympics in Rome if the city wins the right to host the games (AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro) (AFP)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis said Friday he will not still be in the Vatican in ten years' time.

Greeting athletes and officials from the Italian National Olympic Committee, the 78-year-old pontiff wished them well with their bid to host the 2024 Games, but said he would not be around to watch them.

"Dear friends, best wishes for Rome's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games," he said. "I will not be there. May the Lord bless all of you and your families."

It was not the first time the pope, who turned 78 on Wednesday, has hinted he does not think he will last very long at the helm of the Catholic Church.

On his way back from South Korea in August he lightheartedly remarked to reporters that he may have only two or three years left to live.

Responding to a question about how he deals with his astonishing global popularity, he replied: "I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then I'll be off to the house of the Father".

The Argentinian pontiff has also stated that he could retire if his health fails, as his predecessor Benedict XVI did last year in what was the first voluntary papal resignation in more than 700 years.