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Updated: April 21, 2010
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2010 by Marco Stoovelaar

Former IOC-President Juan Antonio Samaranch passed away


...Juan Antonio Samaranch...
(1920 - 2010)

BARCELONA (Spain) - On April 21, former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch passed away at the age of 89.

During his period as IOC-President (1980-2001) both softball and baseball became official Olympic medal sports. It were executives as Robert Smith (USA), Aldo Notari (Italy), Guus van der Heijden (Netherlands) and Don Porter (USA), who had several talks with IOC-representatives and made successful bids for both baseball and softball for the sports to get an Olympic status. Baseball in 1987, softball in 1991. After demonstration tournaments in 1984 (Los Angeles, USA) and 1988 (Seoul, Korea), baseball became an official sport during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona (Spain). Softball made its Olympic debut during the Games of 1996 in Atlanta (USA). Unfortunately, during the IOC Session of 2005 in Singapore, it was decided to drop both baseball and softball from the Olympic calender, starting in 2012. Because of this, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (China) were the last (so far) to include baseball and softball as an Olympic medal sport. In 2009, both the International Baseball and Softball Federations, made another bid to return as an Olympic sport in 2016, but didn't get enough votes. Mr. Samaranch was the Honorary Chairman of the BackSoftball-campaign, which worked hard for the reinstatement of softball as an Olympic sport.

,,This certainly is a sad day in international sports and the Olympic Movement'', said International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter. ,,Former president Samaranch was not only a great supporter of softball, but moreover, a truly dedicated ambassador for the growth and promotion of amateur and professional sports, both for men and women. He personified so much of what the Olympics became during his leadership. We will certainly miss this colleague and friend.''

Riccardo Fraccari, President of the International BAseball Federation (IBAF) issued the following statement: ,,On behalf of the International Baseball Federation, I am saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Juan Antonio Samaranch. We send our most sincere thoughts and support to his family during this difficult time, and I am sure the greater Olympic community echoes our sympathy and condolences. I had the pleasure to meet and work with Juan on many occasions, and I can say he was a very genuine and charasmatic person, whose support for the sport of baseball will always be appreciated and will not be forgotten by me or the International Baseball Federation.''

Juan Antonio Samaranch Torellˇ was born on July 17, 1920 in Barcelona, where he also passed away on April 21, 2010 at the age of 89.

In his childhood, Mr. Samaranch was a talented roller hockey player. After a short career as a sports journalist for La Prensa newspaper, he went into business and became the President of the board of Spain's largest savings bank La Caixa. Samaranch also served on the municipal government of Barcelona, being responsible for sports, was a member of the Lower House, was the Spanish Minister of Sports (1967-1971) and became the President of the governing council of the Province of Barcelona. In 1977, he was appointed Spanish ambassador in the Soviet Union and Mongolia.

Juan Antonio Samaranch served as Chef de Mission for Spanish teams on several occassions during Olympic Games and became the President of the Spanish National Olympic Committee in 1967, while also becoming a member of the International Olympic Committee.

After having served as Vice-President of the IOC in 1974-1978, Samaranch was elected as the seventh President of the International Olympic Committee in July 1980 during the IOC Session prior the Olympic Games in Russian capital Moscow. During his period as IOC-President, the Olympic Games became financially healthy again and Samaranch introduced big television rights deals, as well as sponsorships. Also, the number of participating member nations grew. Samaranch always wanted the best possible athletes to participate in the Olympic Games which eventually led to the participation of professional athletes in a number of sports.

In 2001, Samaranch didn't apply for a new term as President and was succeeded by Jacques Rogge from Belgium. Samaranch was named Honorary President for Life. In 1991, Samaranch was given the title Marq˙es de Samaranch by Spanish King Juan Carlos in recognition of his contributions to the Olympic Movement.

(April 21)

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