Former International Olympic Commitee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has died at the age of 79.
His passing was announced by the Olympic body on Sunday (Aug 29).
In a statement, it said: “It is with great sadness that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces the passing of former IOC President Count Jacques Rogge. He was 79 years old.”
Rogge, a Belgian, was the eighth president of the IOC, from 2001 to 2013.
He was succeeded by German Thomas Bach, the current chief.
An orthopaedic surgeon with a degree in sports medicine, he was a life-long sports fan and an accomplished athlete. According to the IOC, he was a Belgian rugby champion and represented his country on the national team.
But he was perhaps better known as a sailor, the sport in which he made his mark at the Olympics. He competed in sailing at three editions of the Games, in 1968, 1972 and 1976, in the Finn class. The IOC said he was a 16-time Belgian national champion and a world champion in the sport.
After his career as an athlete was over, he turned his attention to sports administration, becoming president of the Belgian and European Olympic Committees.
He was elected president of the IOC in 2001. After he stepped down, he served as a Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations.
IOC chief Bach paid a glowing tribute to his predecessor, recalling: “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.
“He was an accomplished president, helping to modernise and transform the IOC. He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games. 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, when the entire Olympic Movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the Board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.
“The entire Olympic Movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport.”
Rogge leaves behind his wife Anne, a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.
The IOC said that following a private family ceremony, a public memorial service will take place later in the year.