Man who ‘cleaned up’ Olympics, former IOC chief Rogge dies at 79

Former International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has died at the age of 79.

Aug 30, 2021, updated Aug 30, 2021

The IOC announced his death on Sunday but no details were given.

Rogge served as the IOC’s eighth president from 2001 to 2013, succeeding Juan Antonio Samaranch, and went on to become the organisation’s honorary president.

Rogge helped restore the image of the IOC battered by the bribery scandal around the awarding of the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City.

He was a staunch fighter against doping and the Youth Olympics which debuted in 2010 for 15-18-year-old athletes were his brainchild.

The IOC also achieved United Nations observer status during his reign.

“First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes – and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.

“He was an accomplished president, helping to modernise and transform the IOC.

“He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games.

“He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping… the entire Olympic movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport.”

Rogge, a former orthopaedic surgeon, represented the Belgian national team in rugby and was a 16-time Belgian national champion and a world champion in sailing.

He competed in sailing at three Olympics – in 1968, 1972 and 1976 – in the Finn class.

He went on to become president of the Belgian and European Olympic Committees before being elected IOC president, and served as a Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations after his IOC presidency.

During Rogge’s 12-year tenure as IOC president, he awarded the 2012 Games to London.

He became the IOC’s honorary president after leaving the post in 2013.

“Since we were elected as IOC members together we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days, when the entire Olympic movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage,” Bach said.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who led London 2012’s bid, tweeted: “I am beyond sad to hear the news of Jacques passing.

“I wrote to Jacques and Anne 2 weeks ago to tell them that all of us @WorldAthletics missed them at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I said it wasn’t the same being in the Olympic stadium watching athletics without them.

“I have a mountainous gratitude for his part in the seamless delivery of London 2012. No Org Cttee could have asked or received more.

“He was passionate about sport & all he achieved in sport & beyond was done with common decency, compassion and a level head. We will all miss him.”

The IOC said it would fly the Olympic flag at half-mast at all of its properties for five days as a mark of respect for Rogge, with a public memorial to be held later in the year.

Rogge is survived by his wife Anne, his son, daughter and two grandchildren.


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