ZAGREB/BARCELONA, 21 April 2010 – IOC Honorary Life President Juan Antonio Samaranch died at 89 in his hometown of Barcelona today. Juan Antonio Samaranch, often called the reformer of international sport, served as IOC President for 21 years from 1980 to 2001. He was born in Barcelona on 21 July 1920, he became an IOC member in 1966 and served as the IOC Chief of Protocol (1968-1975, 1979-1989), a member of the Executive Board (1970-1978, 1979-), IOC Vice-President (1974-1978) and President (1980-2001).
ZAGREB/BARCELONA, 21 April 2010 – IOC Honorary Life President Juan Antonio Samaranch died at 89 in his hometown of Barcelona today.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, often called the reformer of international sport, served as IOC President for 21 years from 1980 to 2001. He was born in Barcelona on 21 July 1920, he became an IOC member in 1966 and served as the IOC Chief of Protocol (1968-1975, 1979-1989), a member of the Executive Board (1970-1978, 1979-), IOC Vice-President (1974-1978) and President (1980-2001).
At the time when the Croatian Olympic Committee was founded, he provided boundless support to Croatian sport and the new independent state of Croatia. Juan Antonio Samaranch visited the Croatian Olympic Committee five times and Croatia eleven times.
During his first visit to the COC on 26 August 1993, on behalf of Croatian athletes and the Croatian Olympic Committee Antun Vrdoljak presented Juan Antonio Samaranch a COC Charter, granting him honorary membership as a token of gratitude for his immeasurable contribution to the recognition of the COC and its admission to the international sports family. The first COC President (1991-2000), COC Honorary President and IOC Member (since 1995) Antun Vrdoljak said on this sad occasion: "Definitely the greatest friend of Croatian sport in the world has died, the man who helped us when we needed it the most. He brought us to the Olympic Games while we were still not a UN member, it was a great friendship gesture. A great man and sports visionary has died."
COC President Zlatko Matesa said: "It was with sadness that we received the news of the passing of Juan Antonio Samaranch. He was the man who deserved the most credit for the international recognition of the Croatian Olympic Committee. He was a great friend of Croatian athletes, especially Drazen Petrovic. Samaranch did the most for Croatian Olympism, together with COC Honorary President Antun Vrdoljak. In a broader context, we perceive Samaranch as Pierre de Coubertin of modern time for his merit in making the Olympic Games what they are today, for creating a unique Olympic movement and resolving political disputes through the idea of Olympism and Olympic Games."
On behalf of the Croatian Olympic family, the first COC President and Honorary President and IOC Member Antun Vrdoljak, COC President Zlatko Matesa and Secretary General Josip Cop sent their deepest condolences to Juan Antonio Samaranch's family and IOC leaders:
"Today, the Croatian Olympic family is in grief over the loss of a world's great Olympic visionary and true friend of Croatian sport Juan Antonio Samaranch. International and Croatian Olympism have lost a man, who dedicated his entire human and sports potentials to building an Olympic movement that would promote the balanced development of man and preservation of a peaceful society and human dignity. And he succeeded in that.
Juan Antonio Samaranch will be missed by each Olympic athlete, each sports official, and we trust also by numerous people, who respect the Olympic movement, which he led with such skills and knowledge as special gifts of his personality. He lived sport with all his being and left an irreversible mark on the world's Olympic movement."
Samaranch in Croatia:
15-16 September 1979 – attended the Opening Ceremony of the 8th Mediterranean Games in Split as IOC Member and Vice-President of the International Mediterranean Games Committee
5 September 1981 - attended the Opening Ceremony of the 15th European Aquatics Championships in Split
10 February 1985 - visited the construction sites of the venues for the Zagreb Universiade
8-10 July 1987 - attended the Opening Ceremony of the Zagreb Universiade
20 June 1989 - attended the Opening Ceremony of the Men's European Basketball Championship in Zagreb
27-28 August 1990 - attended the Opening Ceremony of the European Athletics Championships in Split
26 August 1993 - the first visit to the Croatian Olympic Committee after its foundation. During his stay in Zagreb, he visited the parents of Drazen Petrovic, who had died in a car accident, presented them with a posthumously awarded IOC President's Trophy and laid a wreath at his grave
15-16 February 1994 - on his way to and from the noble mission of assistance to the Olympic City of Sarajevo, he stayed in Split and met with COC leaders
17 January 1995 - participated in the celebration of the 3rd anniversary of Croatia's admission to the IOC, reviewed the works of art bidding for the design of the monument to Drazen Petrovic in the Olympic Park in Lausanne and presented a recognition to Antun Vrdoljak
7 August 1999 - attended the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd World Military Games in Zagreb
17 January 2007 - attended the Great Day of Croatian Sport on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the recognition of the COC by the IOC