Jacques Rogge, who spent 12 years as president of the International Olympic Committee, has died at the age of 79, the organisation announced on Sunday.
“It is with great sadness that the International Olympic Committee announces the passing of former IOC President Count Jacques Rogge. He was 79 years old,” said an IOC statement.
Rogge was the eighth president of the IOC, from 2001 to 2013, after which he was succeeded by Thomas Bach.
“First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes – and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious,” said Bach on Sunday.
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“He was an accomplished President, helping to modernise and transform the IOC. He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping.
“Since we were elected as IOC members together we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days.
“The entire Olympic Movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport.”
Rogge was an orthopaedic surgeon with a degree in sports medicine.
He also played rugby at international level, winning 16 caps for Belgium and became a world champion sailor.
It was on the water that he took part in three Olympics in 1968, 1972 and 1976.
After his career as an athlete he became president of the Belgian and European Olympic Committees, and was elected president of the IOC in 2001.
After his IOC presidency, he served as a Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations.
Rogge was married to Anne and he leaves behind a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.