Antun Vrdoljak, an eminent sports official and politician, was elected President of the Croatian Olympic Committee at the founding assembly on 10 September 1991, as the representative of the Croatian Athletics Association, one of the 29 national Olympic sports associations, which were the founding members of the Croatian Olympic Committee.
At the proposal of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who became acquainted with him as a great expert on sports and the Olympic movement dedicated to the principles of Olympism, Antun Vrdoljak was elected to the IOC at the 104th session of the International Olympic Committee in Budapest in June 1995. He was the first Croat in the independent Republic of Croatia to become a member of the Olympic movement’s highest international body. His election was a great personal honour, and also a great honour for Croatia and the Croatian Olympic movement.
In 1996, IOC member Antun Vrdoljak was appointed to the IOC Radio and Television Commission and the IOC Culture and Olympic Education Commission in 2006. He served two terms as President of the Croatian Olympic Committee, until October 2000, and was declared its Honorary President in December 2003.
Antun Vrdoljak’s great influence in sport began with the first task entrusted to him – saving the European Athletics Championships, which were to be held in Split in 1990. 72 days before the beginning of the Championships almost nothing was ready; Split faced the danger of losing the Championships. Thanks to his dedication and enormous energy and efforts, the European Athletics Championships became an example of good organisation.
Antun Vrdoljak was born in Imotski on 4 June 1931.In his youth, he was involved in athletics, handball and table tennis, and his activities also included sports journalism and acting. He graduated from the Zagreb Drama Academy and became a film director. He has directed many films, ten of which are deemed classics in the annals of Croatian film history: When You Hear the Bells (1969), A Pine Tree in the Mountain (1971), Snowstorm (1977), Cyclops (1982), The Glembajs (1988), Love and a Few Curses (1969), The Return (1979), Deps (1974), From Friday to Friday (1985) and Carnival, Angel and Dust (1989). He has received many international and Croatian awards for his directing. In 2005, he directed his latest film, A Long Dark Night, which was received equally well by both critics and audiences.In 1991, he was appointed Director General of Croatian Radio and Television; a post he held until 1996.
For his outstanding contribution to the development of the Olympic movement, Antun Vrdoljak received the distinguished IOC prize, the IOC Centennial Trophy, in 1994, and the most prominent Croatian sports award – the Franjo Bucar Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.