Friday, April 23, 2010

Juan Antonio Samaranch (1920-2010)

Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch has died in hospital after being taken ill at the weekend. The Spaniard was widely regarded as the most powerful man in sport when he headed the IOC from 1980 to 2001.
His successor Jacques Rogge stated: "I cannot find the words to express the distress of the Olympic family (...) Thanks to his extraordinary vision and talent, Samaranch was the architect of a strong and unified Olympic Movement. I can only pay tribute to his tremendous achievements and legacy, and praise his genuine devotion to the Olympic Movement and its values. We have lost a great man, a mentor and a friend who dedicated his long and fulfilled life to Olympism."

The website of the IOC contains a selection of remarks of Samaranch about Olympism, starting with “We must constantly expand sport’s capacity to open the minds and hearts of young people”.

During his term, Samaranch made the Olympic Games financially healthy, with big television deals and sponsorships. It became a tradition for Samaranch, when giving the President's address at the close of each Summer Olympics, to praise the organizers at each Olympiad for putting on "the best ever" Games.

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