Shepparton News

Rogge a champion for clean competitio­n

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Australia’s Olympic fraternity is paying tribute to former Internatio­nal Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who has died at the age of 79.

Rogge, a key figure in delivering Sydney’s 2000 Olympics, had a ‘‘special affection for Australia’’, says Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates.

Coates, a long-time friend of Rogge while serving on the IOC together, says the Belgian played a pivotal role in Sydney’s successful Games.

‘‘Jacques had a special affection for Australia and we to him as chair of the IOC co-ordination commission for Sydney 2000,’’ Coates said in a statement yesterday.

‘‘I had the privilege of working closely with Jacques and will forever admire his integrity and immense contributi­on to the Olympic movement.’’

The IOC announced Rogge’s 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 surroundin­g 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, was his brainchild.

Rogge, a sailor, competed at three Olympics — 1968, 1972 and 1976.

‘‘Jacques was a giant of the Olympic movement and his passing is a great loss to the Olympic family,’’ Coates said.

‘‘He was a champion athlete, a triple Olympian and great ambassador for fair play.

‘‘As president of the IOC he helped modernise the Olympic movement, inaugurate­d the Youth Olympics and was a tireless advocate for clean sport.’’

IOC president Thomas Bach also hailed the influence of Rogge.

‘‘He was an accomplish­ed president, helping to modernise and transform the IOC,’’ Bach said in a statement.

‘‘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 became the president of the Belgian and European Olympic committees before being elected IOC president.

He served as a Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations after his IOC presidency.

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

grandchild­ren.

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