- 23 Apr 2010
- IOC News
Olympic Family bids farewell to Samaranch
In a moving ceremony in the cathedral of his native Barcelona, more than 4,000 people paid tribute to Juan Antonio Samaranch. The IOC Honorary President died on Wednesday at the age of 89 from heart failure. Among those who attended the funeral were King Juan Carlos of Spain, IOC President Jacques Rogge, IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach, IOC member Prince Albert of Monaco, two-time Olympic champion and Chairman of London 2012 Sebastian Coe, Samaranch's son Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., daughter Maria Teresa and other family members.
Before the ceremony, hundreds of people paid respect to the man who was at the head of the IOC from 1980 until 2001. The casket was draped in the Olympic flag and had been placed in the Salon Sant Jordi room at the Catalan regional government headquarters. Tennis stars and Olympic champions Rafael Nadal and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario were among the pallbearers who carried the coffin afterwards to the city’s cathedral.
Paying tribute to Samaranch, President Rogge said: “We've come from the four corners of the world to say farewell to an old friend and great man. I can say today that Samaranch was the most influential IOC leader since Pierre de Coubertin. Samaranch changed everything and made the Olympic Games what they are today.”
In a private ceremony, Rogge expressed his condolences to the family: “You have lost a beloved father and grandfather; Spain has lost an illustrious son; the Olympic Movement has lost a leader, a mentor and a friend.”
“Behind a great man there is a rich personality. He was a man of few words but each of these words would resonate loudly and were always meaningful. He has left a great legacy. And I pledge on behalf of the International Olympic Committee that we shall preserve and perpetuate his legacy and his heritage. He had the wisdom to modify and change the IOC itself and make it a modern, transparent, representative and financially independent organisation,” Rogge said.