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AOC pays tribute to Juan Antonio Samaranch

22 April 2010

Juan Antonio Samaranch
[1920-2010]

We are deeply saddened by the loss of IOC Honorary Life President, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The Australian Olympic Committee was particularly close to President Samaranch as his Presidency of the IOC (1980-2001) covered the period of the three most recent Australian bids to host the Olympic Games (with the Brisbane vote in 1986, Melbourne in 1989 and Sydney in 1993) and then the period of our preparations for and hosting the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.  He always gave us great encouragement, strong support and, in my case, wise counsel and direction on many occasions.

I know it gave him great pleasure and satisfaction to declare our Sydney Olympic Games “the best Games ever” in his speech at the Closing Ceremony – a ceremony for which he returned from Spain after flying back during the Games on the passing his wife Maria Teresa.

The islands of the Pacific and their people held a great fascination for President Samaranch who visited them often and oversaw the development and recognition of 12 new National Olympic Committees from Oceania during his Presidency.  Long-serving Oceania NOCs President, Kevan Gosper said “he liked nothing more than getting out of his suit and into island dress” during these visits.

Australia’s longest serving IOC Member, Kevan Gosper also reflected - “It was a privilege to work with him on the IOC Executive Board for 16 years. I admired the way he opened up the Olympic Movement, brought women into more active roles and always put the athlete to the forefront. Frankly I thought the world of him.”

We send our sincere condolences to President Samaranch’s daughter, Maria Teresa (who was the Attaché to the 1992 Australian Olympic Team in Barcelona), his son and IOC Member, Juan Antonio Jnr and their families.

We have lost a real friend.

JOHN COATES
President, Australian Olympic Committee
IOC Executive Board Member

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