He was looking forward to his farewell, Jacques Rogge told NRC in early 2012, more than a year and a half before his resignation as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “I will stop in September 2013. Then my term is up. Then I will become honorary chairman and I will enjoy myself. I am already looking forward to the time when I can go to the Games without having to worry about organizational matters.”
The Belgian Rogge has been able to enjoy his free role at the IOC for a relatively short time. He passed away this weekend at the age of 79. With his death, a life largely dominated by sports came to an end. As a sailor, Rogge competed in the Finn class in the Olympic Games in Mexico (1968), Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976), with a best result of fourteenth. Another great love of Rogge was rugby, he played ten international matches for Belgium.
Already during his sports career, Rogge set himself up as a driver. At first close to the sport; in 1976 he was chef de mission of the Belgian team at the Winter Games in Innsbruck. He would also play that role at the Moscow Summer Games in 1980. He made sure that the Belgians simply traveled to the Soviet Union that year, unlike the United States and other Western countries, which boycotted the event because of the Russian invasion. in Afghanistan in 1979. ‘You don’t mix the Olympic Games and politics,’ said Rogge, who also acted as Belgian delegation leader at the Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988).
His Olympic career took an important turn in 1989 when, in addition to his work as an orthopedic surgeon, he became president of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee. It paved the way for IOC membership, in 1991, and thus for the subsequent presidency. In 2001, Rogge succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Spaniard who had turned the Games into such a huge commercial success as a corrupt gang.
In the twelve years that Rogge led the IOC, he acquired the nickname “Mr. clean’. The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games were his first as president. Exactly the event that made his name within the IOC. Several IOC members, it came to light in 1998, had been bribed by representatives of the American city in exchange for their vote and Rogge as vice-chairman made short work of that.
Fight against doping
As chairman, he also carried out a major reorganization at the IOC, and he committed himself to the fight against doping by, among other things, doubling the number of checks at the Games. Rogge mentioned in the summer of 2013, in conversation with NRC, “the stepped-up fight” against doping as one of his main achievements, as is the IOC’s improved financial position. He also said that he was satisfied with the administrative reforms that had been implemented . “All conceivable improvements have been made. We have strict internal and external controls. For example, the IOC is audited in the same way as the stock exchange. We have introduced the conflict of interest rule, IOC members are no longer allowed to visit candidate cities and we have a strict ethics committee. All in all I am satisfied.”