Former IOC president Samaranch dies at 89April 22nd, 2010 - 3:11 am ICT by IANS
Barcelona, April 22 (IANS) Former International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch has died in a hospital here Wednesday. He was 89.
Samaranch, who had suffered heart and breathing problems in recent months, was taken to the Quiron hospital after feeling unwell Sunday evening. Although he was able to walk into the hospital, his condition worsened considerably Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
Samaranch died of coronary and respiratory failure Wednesday, just a few minutes after the hospital issued a statement saying he had gone into “irreversible shock”, and was in a critical condition.
His body will be taken to the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona so that well wishers can pay their last respects Thursday.
Many believe Samaranch, who was IOC chief between 1980 and 2001, was responsible for the Olympic Games as we know them today.
His last public appearance was on March 4 this year when was awarded Hispano-Chinese Foundation prize for his time as president of the Hispano-Chinese Forum, which he led since November 2001.
IOC President Jacques Rogge hailed Samaranch’s contribution to the Olympic movement, describing him as “a great man, a mentor and a friend who dedicated his long and fulfilled life to Olympism”.
“I cannot find the words to express the distress of the Olympic family,” said Rogge. “I am personally deeply saddened by the death of the man who built up the Olympic Games of the modern era, a man who inspired me, and whose knowledge of sport was truly exceptional.”
“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,”Rogge added.
Born in Barcelona in 1920, Samaranch pursued a career as diplomat and sports administrator before leading the IOC for 21 years from 1980 to 2001.
Soon after his election, Samaranch worked towards the abolition of amateurism at the Olympic Games. Despite two boycotts in Moscow in 1980 and in Los Angeles in 1984, Samaranch managed to maintain the quality of the Games and increased the number of participating countries.
The IOC said in the statement Samaranch was responsible for the new IOC headquarters building in Vidy and for inaugurating The Olympic Museum in Lausanne. He also championed the representation of women in the IOC, overseeing the entry of the first women members in the 1980s.
He was also responsible for setting up the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and for involving the athletes themselves in the decision-making of the IOC by creating the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
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