April 21st, 2010
07:55 AM ET

Former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch dead

Longtime International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch died of cardiac arrest Wednesday at the age of 89, the hospital in Barcelona said.

He was with his family when he died, a spokesman at the Hospital Quiron Barcelona told CNN.

Samaranch was admitted to the hospital suffering from a serious heart condition, the hospital said Tuesday.

Samaranch, a Spaniard, was made an honorary life president of the IOC after stepping down from his position in 2001. He had served in the post for 21 years, making him the longest-serving IOC president.

Current IOC President Jacques Rogge took over after Samaranch stepped down.

During his tenure, Samaranch was credited with achieving financial security for the Olympic movement by maximizing television and sponsorship deals.

He remained active in sports administration after stepping down as IOC president.

"I cannot find the words to express the distress of the Olympic family," Rogge said in a statement after his death. "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."

Ed Hula, editor of the Olympics Web site Around the Rings, who knew and interviewed Samaranch, said he was responsible for modernizing the IOC and bringing about fundamental changes.

"He really brought the Olympics from the 20th into the 21st century by encouraging the growth in marketing revenue, TV sponsorship, that underpins the Olympic movement today," Hula told CNN. "He took steps to end the culture of bribery and vote-buying that went on with the selection of Olympic cities.

"Some say he turned a blind eye to it for a long time until he was forced to act, but when he did act, the IOC didn't shy away from punishing and sanctioning those who were involved," Hula said. "He was old world, an old-school IOC member, but at the same time he recognized the need for the IOC to become a much more modern organization."

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Filed under: Sports • World
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Joe Smith

    Probably from an overdose of HGH.

    April 21, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Robert T. Coleman

    2010 04 21
    9.00AM EST

    Sir,

    The Olympics Are A Time For International Unity. Mr. Samaranch Exemplified The Spirit Of Sport For Bringing Nations Together. He Will Be Missed. God Bless His Family.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Robert T. Coleman

    April 21, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    When you think of the Olympics, you immediately think of Juan Antonio Samaranch. Juan was, is, and will continue to be, a symbol of the olympic movement. He will be missed.

    April 21, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rosemarie

    May his rest in peace & blessings to his family and friends and fans.

    April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Philani Nongogo

    Sir,

    This is indeed very sad News to the Olympic Movement. This was a man who, to me and my country South Africa and the entire African Continent, oozed vission and courage to take on apartheid and its apologist, side-stepping all possible ditractors and delivered to the world, a South African societty, and its sports, free of ar least brutt racism in sports, and with this I will always remember him for and respect! Fortunately I had privilige of meeting him in Copenhagen last summer in the Olympic Congress, where I was in almost all the discussion with him, and not even a single second I took for granted around his midst. Thank you His Excellency, Juan Antinio Samaranch! We will always remeber you.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |