Juan Antonio Samaranch Dies at 89
The seventh president of the International Olympic Committee died of cardiac arrest Tuesday, April 21 in Barcelona, Spain. He was 89.
Juan Antonio Samaranch was at the helm of the Olympic organization from 1980 until 2001. It was a period plagued with political boycott, terrorism and financial troubles. However, Samaranch was able to turn things around with his diplomacy and mastery of negotiation. By the time he stepped down, Olympics has become the world’s biggest sporting event that cities vie to host.
During his tenure, women were first appointed to the IOC, professional players were allowed to compete as he wanted the best players to participate in the quadrennial event, and most importantly, rescued the games from financial problems by allowing hosts to pursue global sponsors. This made the event a good commercial revenue generator.
Most importantly, the games grew during his term, from the number of sporting events to participating nations and athletes, partly because of the Olympic Solidarity. This is a fund setup by Samaranch that helped steer proceeds to bring and promote sports in developing countries.
Samaranch holds the title of Honorary President for Life of the International Olympic Committee. In his native Spain, he was given a Spanish nobility hereditary title – Marques de Samaranch, which has now passed to his son. Both are for his tremendous contributions to the Olympic movement.
He was laid in state in the Palau de la Generalitat.