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Jacques Rogge, IOC president for 12 years, dies at 79

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Jacques Rogge, who oversaw an period of political and monetary stability within the Olympic motion after its worst ethics scandal and pursued a tough line in opposition to doping throughout his 12 years as IOC president, has died, the Olympic group mentioned Sunday. He was 79.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee introduced his dying with out giving particulars. Rogge’s well being had visibly declined when he attended Olympic occasions since his presidency resulted in 2013.


“Before everything, Jacques cherished sport and being with athletes — and he transmitted this ardour to everybody who knew him,” Thomas Bach, Rogge’s successor as president, mentioned in an IOC assertion. “His pleasure in sport was infectious.”

Rogge, a former orthopedic surgeon from Belgium, guided the IOC by a interval of relative calm and prosperity throughout a time period that spanned three Summer time Olympics and three Winter Video games from 2001-2013.

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A 3-time Olympian in crusing, Rogge earned reward for bringing a gradual hand to the customarily turbulent world of Olympic politics but additionally confronted exterior criticism for not being powerful sufficient on human rights points with China and Russia.

He managed a gradual development in IOC revenues, even through the world financial disaster; made peace with the U.S. Olympic Committee after years of bitter squabbling over money-sharing; and — in what he thought of his private legacy — created the Youth Olympics.

Below Rogge’s watch, the IOC took the Olympics to new international locations and continents — awarding the primary Summer time Video games to South America (Rio de Janeiro in 2016) and the primary Winter Video games to Russia (Sochi 2014) and South Korea (Pyeongchang 2018).

“I hope that folks, with time, will think about that I did a very good job for the IOC,” the understated Rogge mentioned in an interview with The Related Press earlier than stepping down in 2013. “That’s what you legitimately wish to be remembered for.”

Rogge was elected the IOC’s eighth president in Moscow on July 16, 2001, defeating 4 different candidates to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch, a Spaniard who ran the committee with an authoritarian and imperious model for 21 years. Rogge took workplace within the wake of the Salt Lake Metropolis corruption scandal, during which 10 IOC members resigned or have been expelled for receiving scholarships, funds and lavish items through the Utah capital’s profitable bid for the 2002 Winter Video games.

Rogge loved a “Mr. Clear” repute and moved shortly to interrupt with the IOC’s tainted and elitist picture. Inside hours of coming to energy, he introduced that he would keep within the athletes’ village fairly than the IOC lodge through the Salt Lake Olympics. (He continued the observe at subsequent video games, although he additionally would keep within the official lodge when he had necessary conferences).

“He was completely the correct particular person on the proper time,” Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg mentioned. “We had quite a lot of turmoil. We needed to get out of that. We needed to get one other picture. He introduced stability to the group.”

Rogge’s measured, unpretentious model was in sharp distinction with that of Samaranch. Whereas the previous Spanish diplomat labored behind the scenes and twisted arms to get what he wished, Rogge pursued a extra democratic, collegial and management-oriented strategy. He described himself as a “sober” chief.

After serving an preliminary eight-year time period, Rogge was re-elected unopposed in 2009 to a second and closing four-year mandate. He stepped down in September 2013 in Buenos Aires, the place Germany’s Thomas Bach was elected as his successor.

“I acquired an IOC in fine condition from Samaranch,” Rogge mentioned in an interview earlier than handing over to Bach. “And I consider I’ll go away an IOC in fine condition to my successor.”

Rogge spoke 5 languages, an enormous promoting level within the multi-lingual IOC. His native tongue was Flemish or Dutch, however he additionally spoke French, English, Spanish and German.

Rogge presided over Summer time Olympics in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012), and Winter Video games in Salt Lake Metropolis (2002), Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010).

Salt Lake Metropolis got here simply months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror assaults. Rogge consulted with then-President George W. Bush about safety measures for the video games, which went off peacefully. Preparations for the Athens Video games have been dogged by power delays. Beijing was surrounded by controversy over China’s file on Tibet, human rights and press freedom.

Human rights teams accused Rogge and the IOC of failing to talk out in opposition to abuses in China and Russia. Rogge espoused “quiet diplomacy” and insisted repeatedly that the IOC was a sports activities group, not a authorities or political physique.

Rogge mentioned the darkest second of his presidency was the dying of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed in a high-speed coaching crash hours earlier than the 2010 opening ceremony in Vancouver.

Whereas Samaranch and the IOC have been criticized for a perceived laxness on performance-enhancing medicine, Rogge initiated a high-profile “zero tolerance” coverage on doping. He doubled the variety of drug checks on the Olympics to five,000, instituted rigorous pre-games and out-of-competition checks and retested samples from earlier video games to catch cheaters retroactively.

Rogge warned continuously about the specter of match-fixing and unlawful betting, organising a devoted unit to watch betting patterns through the Olympics. He utilized a tough line on ethics, suspending or forcing out members implicated in any violations and holding agency to the post-Salt Lake Metropolis ban on member visits to bid cities.

Rogge’s views weren’t at all times effectively acquired: He was criticized as being out of contact when he chided Usain Bolt for showboating in Beijing and questioned whether or not the Jamaican sprinter was a “residing legend” in London.

Rogge got here beneath hearth from Jewish teams for refusing to permit a second of silence on the London opening ceremony to recollect the 11 Israeli crew members killed by Palestinian gunmen on the 1972 Munich Video games. He did participate in particular commemorations for the Israelis exterior of the ceremonies.

Searching for to include the dimensions and price of the Olympics, Rogge instituted a cap of 10,500 athletes and 28 sports activities for the Summer time Video games. Nonetheless, there have been about 11,000 athletes and 33 sports activities on the Tokyo Olympics that closed this month.

He struggled with the thorny challenge of slicing and including sports activities. Softball and baseball have been faraway from this system after 2008, whereas golf and rugby have been included for 2016. Wrestling was surprisingly dropped for 2020 in 2012 however was given a second probability and received again its place a 12 months later.

Lamenting an increase in youth weight problems and in search of to get younger folks off the sofa, Rogge developed his pet mission — the Youth Olympic Video games. The occasion, for athletes aged 15 to 18, was designed to contain instructional and cultural experiences in addition to sports activities competitors. The Summer time Youth Video games debuted in Singapore in 2010, with the second version held in Nanjing, China, in August 2014.

The IOC’s monetary safety strengthened beneath Rogge’s tenure. Revenues from world sponsors grew from $663 million in 2001-04 to just about $1 billion for the four-year cycle by London. Tv rights offers raised billions, together with a $4.38 billion cope with NBC by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The IOC’s reserves rose from $100 million to $900 million over 10 years.

In a serious breakthrough, Rogge signed a long-term revenue-sharing cope with the USOC in 2012. Tensions had festered for years over a earlier deal that many Olympic officers felt gave the U.S. too huge a slice of TV and sponsorship revenues.

Rogge’s well being declined within the closing years of his presidency. He underwent hip substitute surgical procedure in September 2012 and regarded a far cry from the youthful, sturdy man who got here to energy.

Rogge is survived by his spouse, Anne, and their two grownup kids.

Rogge was born on Could 2, 1942 in Ghent, a medieval Flemish harbor metropolis. By the age of three, he was accompanying his dad and mom on crusing journeys alongside Belgium’s North Coastline.

He went on to compete in crusing’s Finn class in three Olympics — Mexico Metropolis 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976. He additionally performed 10 years on Belgium’s nationwide rugby crew.

Rogge started his profession in sports activities administration on the age of 34 when he was requested to function an athlete’s consultant on Belgium’s nationwide Olympic committee. As Belgium’s crew chief for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, he resisted strain to stick to the U.S.-led boycott following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Belgian crew went to Moscow and competed beneath the Olympic flag.


Rogge headed the Belgian Olympic Committee from 1989-1992 and was president of the European Olympic Committees from 1989-2001. He turned an IOC member in 1991 and received reward for his position as chairman of the coordination fee for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Rogge was made a rely by Belgium’s King Albert II in 2002 and acquired an honorary British knighthood in London in 2014.

The IOC mentioned the Olympic flag will probably be flown at half-mast for 5 days at Olympic Home in Lausanne.

“Following a non-public household ceremony, a public memorial service will happen later within the 12 months,” the ICO mentioned, “the place members and pals of the Olympic Motion will be capable to keep in mind his life and his nice contribution to sport.”

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