Rogge opens his final IOC session

Buenos Aires: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge officially opened the final IOC Session he will preside over in Buenos Aires.

It will decide on the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics; vote on which extra sport to accept for the 2020 Games; and determine who is to replace Rogge in his post.

The 71-year-old Belgian is stepping down after 12 years in charge.

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are vying for the right to host the Games in a vote that takes place on Saturday.

The sports of wrestling, squash and the joint bid of softball/baseball are competing for the right to added to the roster of Olympic sports at the Games. They will learn their fate on Sunday.

Six IOC members -- all men -- are in the hunt to replace Rogge with three-time IOC vice-president Thomas Bach of Germany the favourite to win. That vote will take place on Tuesday.

"It has been my great honour to lead this organisation for the past 12 years," said Rogge yesterday.

"When you love sport like I do, it is an indescribable privilege to play a role in fulfilling the dreams of athletes and putting sport to work for society.

"My belief in the ideals of our movement and the positive power of sport are stronger than ever."

Arguably Rogge`s greatest achievement was to restore the reputation of the IOC after the bribes-for-votes scandal over the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

"When I was first elected in 2001, my first words were to thank my colleagues for their confidence in me," Rogge on Friday.

"As I near the end of my tenure, I want to thank them again -- not just for their confidence, but also for their support and guidance over these privileged and sometimes challenging years."

Rogge, himself a former Olympic yachtsman, said that all six of candidates bidding to replace him were capable and qualified.

"I cannot predict who the next IOC president will be. But I am certain of this: whoever it is will have the experience of a lifetime...

"I am confident that the Olympic Movement is strong and that its future is bright."
Argentinian IOC member Gerardo Werthein paid tribute to Rogge.

"He has given everything to the Olympic Movement including integrity. You are and always will be an example to us," he said.

"You have always told us to remain humble. Your legacy will remain forever in the IOC."


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