February 07, 2002

Marc It Down: Profile of new IOC chief Jacques Rogge

The Olympics will never be the same again. ... The new chief of the International Olympic Committee does not want to be referred to as “your excellency”. He does not want to stay in lavish, thousand-dollar-a-night hotel rooms during the Games. (Source 1, below) He does not want to increase the number of events in the already-bloated Games. What does he want? Simply, "Just call me Jack." (Source 2, below) Jacques Rogge (pronounced ROG-guh) is a middle-aged doctor from Belgium. He speaks five languages. He was an Olympic athlete himself; a world-class sailor, Rogge competed in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics. He will even stay in the athlete’s village during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, in a remodeled college dorm room. What a breath of fresh air, a change from the dictatorial reign of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the retired ex-chief of the IOC. Under Samaranch, the Olympics went from a money-losing operation affected by political strife and scandal, to a major corporate sponsored international event, albeit still affected by political strife and scandal. Rogge wants to maintain the financial success of the Olympics, but return the focus to the athletes and the Olympic ideal, a friendly competition between nations. The Olympics are meant to bring the world together, not highlight differences. Rogge intends to do just that. ''The Olympic Games are the best message of brotherhood, fraternity and universality. There is no better symbol of the world uniting around the cause.'' (source 3, below) According to a story in Yahoo! Sports in December, athletes from Afghanistan will be invited and encouraged to participate in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. (source 4, below) It is widely reported that under the Taliban regime, Afghans were not allowed to participate in sports. The national soccer stadium in Kabul was instead used as execution grounds. The Olympic Games have never taken place in Africa, but Rogge would like to see that change as well. (Source 5, below) In a CBS News profile of Rogge in July, 2001, Samaranch is quoted as saying, “It is a joy to have a credible successor. I am fulfilled. He is young and knows sport very well.” (source 6, below) . Well put, Your Excellency. Now make way for Jack. ….. Sources and other sites: Source 1 Aug. 16, 2001 Slam Sports (Canada) Source 2 Jan. 29, 2002 TheAge.com Source 3 Sept. 21, 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Source 4 Dec. 12, 2001 Yahoo! Sports Source 5 Dec. 7, 2001 AllAfrica.com Source 6 July 16, 2001 CBS News

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