Samaranch loved and respected China

14:59, April 22, 2010      

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Juan Antonio Samaranch, honorary president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), died of heart disease at the age of 89 in Spain's capital Madrid on April 21, 2010 (Beijing time). Samaranch, who devoted his entire life to the development of modern sports, had a long-standing friendship with China.

On Sept. 4, 2008, Samaranch published an article titled "Why I love and respect China" in "La Vanguardia Espanola," the fourth most-read newspaper in Spain.

He wrote, "The Chinese people have an excellent memory. They always cherish their friends in adversity and never forget anyone who helps them in times of trouble. This is why I was warmly welcomed with friendship and love during the Beijing Olympics by the Chinese people, though it would be difficult for me to describe the feelings in words. I have made 29 visits to China over the past 30 years. I have gained friendship and love from China and have learned to love and respect China in turn."

Samaranch wished Beijing a successful Olympic Games and could not wait to share with the public his long-standing friendship with the Chinese people soon after the Beijing Olympic Games had been generally recognized by the international community.

Samaranch was appointed as Spanish Ambassador to the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of Mongolia from 1977 to 1980, which put him in close contact with China.

After China reclaimed its legitimate seat in the United Nations in 1971, the country started negotiations with the IOC on reinstating its position. Since then, Samaranch began his friendship with China.

He said, "I wanted to say 'thank you' to Mr. Deng Xiaoping. Although he was not tall, he was undoubtedly a great man in history. Thanks to his generous invitation, I had the honor of visiting the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing in 1984."

Samaranch believed that the Chinese people started viewing him as a reliable friend because he appealed to the IOC to recognize China's important role in promoting the Olympic movement. Moreover, China, Yugoslavia and Romania participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games under heavy pressure from the Soviet Union.

"I can still remember clearly the thunderous applause for the Chinese delegation when they entered the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum," he said.

Samaranch was elected president of the IOC on July 16, 1980 during the Olympic Games in Moscow. The People’s Republic of China won a total of 32 medals in its first Olympic Games. With their success, the Chinese people began to seriously consider the possibility of hosting the Olympic Games in the future.

However, Beijing lost the bid to Sydney by only two votes in 1993 during the 101st IOC Session held in Monte Carlo. Samaranch encouraged Beijing not to give up.

Finally, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin told Samaranch that Beijing would bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Samaranch intended to leave his post after the IOC Session in Moscow in July 2001, during which the IOC made two historical decisions. One, Jacques Rogge became Samaranch's successor, and Samaranch declared after the second round of voting that Beijing had won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics Games.

Samaranch believed that the Olympics Games not only gave China an excellent opportunity to help the world understand its culture, but it also gave the Chinese people a chance to open their hearts and freely communicate with people from around the world and enjoy the spirit of the Olympic movement. As a great success of a nationality, the Beijing Olympic Games gained praise from the entire world. This was a complete success that will be hard to transcend.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:梁军)

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