Articulate, multi-lingual and a natural diplomat, Jacques Rogge has all the right credentials to guide the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the early years of the 21st century.
The 59-year-old Belgian surgeon won a landslide victory on Monday to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC president.
Rogge, an IOC member for only 10 years, has won a reputation for crisis management.
After representing Belgium as a yachtsman for three successive Olympics, Rogge moved into sports politics and was chef de mission at two winter and three summer Games.
He joined the IOC in 1991 and was appointed vice-chairman of the medical commission three years later. He is also a council member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is chaired by one of his presidential rivals, Canadian lawyer Dick Pound.
Rogge was the chief coordinator at last year’s successful Sydney Olympics and has been given responsibility for ensuring preparations are on course for the 2004 Athens Games.
His immediate responsibility will be to restore credibility to the IOC, which has been tarnished by a corruption scandal which resulted in 10 members leaving the organization and the underlying problem of doping in sport.
Ten members were either expelled or resigned after accepting bribes in Salt Lake City’s successful bid to stage the 2002 winter Games and the IOC has also been criticised for not tackling the problem of drugs.
On Monday Rogge pledged to protect the Olympic movement against “doping, corruption and violence”.
“The very first challenge for the International Olympic Committee is to have a very successful Salt Lake City Games and we will unite everyone to help our American friends in this endeavour,” he said.
In an interview with Reuters during the final few days of campaigning before Monday’s election, Rogge paid tribute to Samaranch’s achievement but said it was time for the IOC to move on.
“I have the greatest respect for what Samaranch has done… but Samaranch had his presidency for a period of over 21 years,” Rogge said.
“He is a man of a different generation. The next president will have to work more as a uniter and a team worker, will have to empower as much as possible with his colleagues and try to involve everyone. And his mandate will be a shorter one.”
Olympic insiders say Rogge is determined in meetings despite his reputation as a consensus politician.
He has an image as a fixer and often resorts to medical language to describe his tactics in sports administration, stressing that he is not afraid to attack a problem. “As a surgeon where there is an abscess, you cut, you evacuate the pus and you let the body heal,” he said. “If you have a problem you have to address it as soon as possible.
“I think I can be described as being a trouble-shooter. If there is a problem I come and try to solve it.”
Rogge takes the helm for an eight-year term which could be renewed for a maximum of four further years. Athens organizers welcome Rogge election as IOC chief Reuters and AP
Athens 2004 organizers welcomed the election of Jacques Rogge as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday, saying he was a “great friend”.
“As president of the IOC coordinating committee, but also in all his duties, Dr Jacques Rogge emerged as a leading figure of the Olympic movement and proved a great friend of Greece,” Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos said in a statement released in Athens.
Rogge has been the chief inspector of progress in the troubled preparations for the 2004 Games, often issuing strict warnings to Greek organizers.
Angelopoulos said his election as IOC president was an “excellent choice”. We know he will be a great ally of our effort to organise a unique Olympics on a human scale,” she added.
EU congratulates Rogge as new IOC president Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt praised Monday’s election of compatriot Jacques Rogge as head of the International Olympic Committee as a great honor for Belgium and for Europe. “I think that anybody who knows Mr. Rogge knows that this is the right choice,” said Verhofstadt, who also was speaking on behalf of the European Union. Belgium currently holds the 15-nation EU’s rotating presidency. “He is a real sportsman and it is very good that now the presidency of the IOC is not only a Belgian but a real sportsman,” Verhofstadt said. In a statement, EU Sports Commissioner Viviane Redding said Rogge’s election was “good news both for world sport and Europe.” “The election of Jacques Rogge at the head of the IOC means that the European Union will have an ally in the fight against doping at the highest level,” the statement said. As head of the European Olympic Committees and vice chairman of the IOC’s anti-doping panel, Rogge has worked closely with the EU to clean up drugs in sport. Redding praised Rogge’s commitment to “fair play, openness and solidarity.”