Samaranch's legacy rememberable

19:26, April 23, 2010      

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The body of former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch lies in state during a tribute at the Catalonia regional government headquarters in Barcelona, April 22, 2010. Juan Antonio Samaranch died at the age of 89 on April 21, 2010 in Barcelona after suffering from severe heart attack. (Xinhua/Arnau Bach)

While Pierre de Coubertin is called father of the modern Olympics, Juan Antonio Samaranch shall be remembered for his successful reforms on the Olympics. Both have left milestone legacy and heritage for the Olympic movement.

At his funeral service on Thursday, a host of international figures came to Barcelona to pay their tribute to the legendary late president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who passed away on Wednesday.

In 1980 when Samaranch was elected the IOC president, the western world headed by the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games, a gloomy chapter in the history of modern Olympics. In return, the former Soviet Union championed the eastern block to resist the 1984 Los Angles Games.

As the IOC president, Samaranch maneuvered with wisdom and courage to advocate the elimination of political and ideological entrenchment in Olympics.

He might not be powerful enough to change the international politics, yet he had always held high the belief of "sports without border" and tried to honor his office with efforts to restore the original Olympic spirit.

And thanks to his efforts, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has attracted athletes and visitors all over the world.

During his 21 years as the IOC chief, Samaranch worked effectively to transform the nearly-bankrupt IOC, turning the Olympic Games into a thriving, multi-billion-dollar industry that cities around the world compete to host. He made the games one of the most influential and popular event the world has ever known.

Before Samaranch arrived at the IOC presidency, few countries were willing to host the games as the event was too costly.

Samaranch helped to revolutionize sponsorship and broadcasting deals for major events, seeking global sponsors instead of national federations making their own local arrangements.

Because of these reforms, hosting the Olympic Games turned to be profitable since the 1984 Los Angles Games, bringing millions upon billions earnings to the hosts since.

Jacques Rogge, who succeeded Samaranch, said: "He had the wisdom to modify and change the IOC itself and make it a modern, transparent, representative and financially independent organization."

For the sports professionals, Samaranch shall also be remembered as a door-opener as well as a reformer. It is his efforts to open the door of the Olympic Games to professional athletes, allowing more women events to enter the Olympic family.

The general public in China are especially grateful to Samaranch for his kindness to China's Olympic strive, calling him an "old friend" of the Chinese people.

Thanks to his efforts, China returned to the Olympic family and he supported China to host the Olympic Games.

Samaranch was to be cremated and then laid to rest on Friday near Barcelona's Olympic Stadium, as his legacy will be eternally memorized.

Just as Rogge said, Samaranch has left a "great legacy," and "we shall preserve and perpetuate his legacy and his heritage."

Source: Xinhua
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