Olympics rocked by death of former IOC president Jacques Rogge

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Jacques Rogge, pictured here with Australian swimming great Grant Hackett in 2005.
Jacques Rogge with Australian swimming great Grant Hackett in 2005. (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

The Olympic community is mourning the death of former IOC president Jacques Rogge.

The International Olympic Committee announced his death on Sunday, but no details were given. He was 79.

Rogge spent 12 years as president of the IOC from 2001 to 2013, after which he was succeeded by Thomas Bach.

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"It is with great sadness that the International Olympic Committee announces the passing of former IOC President Count Jacques Rogge. He was 79 years old," said an IOC statement.

Bach said: "First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes - and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious.

"He was an accomplished President, helping to modernise and transform the IOC. 

"He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping.

"Since we were elected as IOC members together we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days.

"The entire Olympic Movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport."

Rogge served as the IOC's eighth president, succeeding Juan Antonio Samaranch, and went on to become the organisation's honorary president.

He helped restore the image of the IOC battered by the bribery scandal around the awarding of the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City.

He was a staunch fighter against doping and founded the Youth Olympics which debuted in 2010 for 15-18-year-old athletes.

The IOC also achieved United Nations observer status during his reign.

A former orthopaedic surgeon, Rogge represented the Belgian national team in rugby and was a 16-time national champion and a world champion in sailing.

He competed in sailing at three Olympics - in 1968, 1972 and 1976 - in the Finn class.

He went on to become president of the Belgian and European Olympic Committees before being elected IOC president, and served as a Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations after his IOC presidency.

Jacques Rogge, pictured here awarding the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo.
Jacques Rogge awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini /Pool/Getty Images)

Tributes flow after death of Jacques Rogge

During Rogge's 12-year tenure as IOC president, he awarded the 2012 Games to London.

He became the IOC's honorary president after leaving the post in 2013.

"Since we were elected as IOC members together we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days, when the entire Olympic movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage," Bach said.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who led London 2012's bid, tweeted: "I am beyond sad to hear the news of Jacques passing.

"I wrote to Jacques and Anne 2 weeks ago to tell them that all of us @WorldAthletics missed them at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"I said it wasn't the same being in the Olympic stadium watching athletics without them.

"I have a mountainous gratitude for his part in the seamless delivery of London 2012. No Org Cttee could have asked or received more.

"He was passionate about sport & all he achieved in sport & beyond was done with common decency, compassion and a level head. We will all miss him."

The IOC said it would fly the Olympic flag at half-mast at all of its properties for five days as a mark of respect for Rogge, with a public memorial to be held later in the year.

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

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