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21 Apr 2010
IOC News

1980-2001: The Samaranch Years

Juan Antonio Samaranch profoundly marked the Olympic Movement at the end of the 20th century. Elected by the 83rd IOC Session on 16 July 1980, he presented the programme of his presidency at the Baden-Baden Olympic Congress in 1981, setting out the five main lines of his action plan, namely:

- to strengthen unity of the Olympic Movement;
- to fight against doping;
- to fight against racial discrimination;
- to open the Olympic Games to all the best athletes, including professionals;
- to increase women’s participation both on the field of play and in sports administration.

The themes of unity, development and quality

During his 21-year presidency, Juan Antonio Samaranch achieved the goals he had set for himself around the themes of unity, development and quality.

The unity of the Olympic Movement led in particular to:

- the inclusion of the People’s Republic of China, begun by Lord Killanin;
- the appointment of active athletes and International Federations’ and National Olympic Committees’ representatives as IOC members;
- the abolition of apartheid in sport, which allowed South Africa’s multiracial team to participate in the Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona in 1992; and
- the return of tennis to the programme of the Olympic Summer Games in Seoul 1988.

Development resulted in:

- an increase in the numbers of NOCs from 149 in 1980 to 199 in 2001;
- an increase in the number of sports at the Olympic Games from 21 in 1980 to 28 in 2001;
- the co-option of women as IOC members;
- the promotion of sports education with the creation of Olympic scholarships for
athletes and coaches;
- the participation of the best athletes in all disciplines, through an amendment of the Rule on eligibility for participation in the Olympic Games;
- the diversification of the financial resources of the Olympic Movement, which no longer depend only on TV rights;
- the promotion of the arts and sport, largely achieved through the construction of the
Olympic Museum.

His concern with better quality can be seen:

- in the intensification of the world-wide fight against doping, under the responsibility of the Medical Commission;
- in the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999;
- in the creation of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 1983, and an International
Council of Arbitration for Sport in 1993;
- through concrete actions to promote the protection of the environment, especially during the construction of Olympic venues for the Olympic Games.

A contribution to world peace

By strengthening the unity of the Olympic Movement to make it a leading social force of the 20th century, President Samaranch also made it his goal for sport to contribute to peace in the world. Upon the proposal of the IOC, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted in 1993 for a resolution on compliance with the Olympic Truce during the 17th Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. Since then, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the IOC by unanimously adopting, every two years, one year before each edition of the Olympic Games, a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal." 

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