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  • COB and Rio 2016 Committee declare three days of official mourning for Juan Antonio Samaranch


    04/22/10

    April 21, 2010 --The Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) and the Rio 2016 Games Organizing Committee have declared three days of official mourning for the International Olympic Committee’s honorary president and former president, Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch. He passed away today (Thursday 21 April) at the Quirón Hospital in Barcelona, after being admitted with health problems. Samaranch, who was 89 years old, led the IOC between 1980 and 2001 and was responsible for transforming the Olympic Games into the biggest multi-sport event in the world.


    The president of COB and the Rio 2016 Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman expressed his grief at the death of Samaranch, whom he considers, alongside FIFA honorary president João Havelange, the greatest sports leader of all time. “Juan Antonio Samaranch transformed the history of the Olympic Games. From a loss-making event without commercial and media appeal, Samaranch made the Olympic Games the biggest spectacle on the planet, spreading the Olympic values across the world. Thanks to his strategic vision, the Olympic brand began to be valued and the competition to host the Olympic Games became a race between major countries, even involving world leaders. It developed on all fronts and became one of the strongest industries in the world, with direct benefits for athletes. It was also he who began the fight against doping. So, everything we have today in terms of the Olympic Games was born out of Juan Anto nio Samaranch’s vision. This is an irreplaceable loss for world sport,” said Nuzman.


    The president of COB and the Rio 2016 Committee noted the excellent relationship he always had with the former IOC president. At the time when he led the Beach Volleyball World Council, Nuzman invited Samaranch to watch the sport’s world championships in Rio de Janeiro. “I remember Samaranch’s decisive role in including beach volleyball in the Olympic program. His visit to Rio in 1993 endorsed the inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games. I received a lot of valuable advice from the former IOC president and I always sought to follow it,” he explained.


    Curiously, the campaign that culminated in the choice of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympic Games, after a direct confrontation in the final round of the IOC vote against the city of Madrid, for which Samaranch had worked intensely, originated in advice the Spaniard gave to Nuzman. “He told me that if Brazil wanted to bid to host the Olympic Games, the country first had to organize a large multi-sport event like the Pan American Games. And everything went according to the wise words of Samaranch. The excellent organization of Rio 2007 gave us the base for our successful Rio 2016 bid. Even though we were on opposite sides of this race, there was always a lot of mutual respect. Brazilian Olympic sport will be eternally grateful to Juan Antonio Samaranch,” said Nuzman.

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