POSTED: October 6th 2009

The Rogge legacy: focus on youth and pursue the Olympic Dream

Dr. Jacques Rogge at the 2000 Sydney Games getting ready to chase his biggest Olympic aspiration / Image: Sandro Bartolozzi
Dr. Jacques Rogge at the 2000 Sydney Games getting ready to chase his biggest Olympic aspiration / Image: Sandro Bartolozzi

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: IOC president Dr Jacques Rogge is in the final stages of preparing for his re-election and confirmation of his second mandate on the last day of this IOC session and congress in Copenhagen.

He had been elected on July 16, 2001, at the 112th IOC Session in Moscow and is the eighth president after the 21-yr leadership of Juan Antonio Samaranch.

During the past eight years Rogge has led the IOC to undertake a number of reforms to improve governance and keep the Olympic Games at the pinnacle of world sport. Public attendance and media attention of the Olympics has been staggering and the Olympic brand is one of the most known around the world.

The IOC has just launched a new version of the website streaming the proceedings of the session and the entirety of the 2016 candidate city presentations and process. Some 1200 media representatives, including  broadcast technicians, are attending the IOC session and congress, thus demonstrating the high level of interest.

Rogge has enacted a more structured system to routinely review and reinvigorate the Olympic program, with priorities including the need to pay particular attention to maintaining its attraction to the youth sporting environment. To reach out more effectively to youth he pressed for the establishment of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) and the first edition is set for Singapore 2010 for the summer with Innsbruck 2012 hosting the winter edition.

As president of the European Olympic Committees his focus on youth started long ago when he founded the successful European Youth Olympic Days [now European Youth Olympic Festival] which is still the premier youth event for Europe. As an orthopaedic surgeon, health and wellness have always been a priority and he has strived to fight the modern challenges obesity and inactivity.

Reforms of the Olympic program have included new limits of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes at the Games and improvements in judging and refereeing. Currently ongoing is a reorganised selection process to add two sports to the existing 2016 program. Golf and rugby were approved by the IOC executive in mid-August and are being submitted for possible inclusion.

Rogge as former vice-chairman of the IOC medical commission and with his medical background has been a relentless crusader in the fight against doping. The IOC has worked closely with WADA to raise the testing bar on performance-enhancing substances and constantly strived to improve research to stay ahead of emerging doping practices. 

IOC finances are in golden shape and the organization has sailed through the worldwide financial recession without major impact. Dow Jones has seen a strong 30.39 per cent rise since the Dow Jones Summer/Winter Games Index was changed last December showing solid financials for the Vancouver winter Games.

The IOC has created a reserve contingency fund that is at approximately $429 million to sustain it for a quadriennium in the event of Games having to be cancelled for force majeure.

Also during his term in office the IOC has distributed record revenue back into the world wide sports movement to sustain the international federations and the national Olympic committees and the Olympic family. And vital funding resources have come through the Olympic Solidarity program, which offers financial and training assistance to athletes around the planet in need and in developing areas.

Rogge has endeavored to spread Olympic values through programs in the fields of education, culture, women’s advancement, the environment and Sport for All.

The IOC adopted the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the environmental goals of Agenda 21, and forged closer ties with the UN to support the concept of an Olympic Truce and to foster development through sport, education, humanitarian aid and health protection around the world.

Rogge received the UNEP Champion of the Earth award in 2007 for his personal commitment to the environment from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Olympic Dream

He is married to Anne Rogge, whom he thanked in his acceptance speech at the election in 2001, for her support to help him chase and attain his Olympic dream. She gave up her own medical practice to move to Lausanne and continues to follow and support his aspirations.

He served as president of the Belgian National Olympic Committee from 1989 to 1992, was elected president of the European Olympic Committees in 1989, IOC member in 1991 and Executive Board member in 1998.

A former rugby player and sailor he competed in Finn class at the Mexico Games in 1968, Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. During the 1972 Munich Games he was flag bearer for the Belgian team at the opening ceremony and was there when the Black September terrorist massacre happened.

On October 9 he is unchallenged for the second term of four years for re-election. The vote will be a simple secret vote of the IOC assembly.

Picture above right: IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge at the Olympic Congress / Image: IOC / R. Juilliart

Keywords · Jacques Rogge · IOC · YOG · EYOF · Juan Antonio Samaranch

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