Rogge - the `Little Prince` who became IOC King

Updated: Aug 15, 2009, 14:20 PM IST

Berlin: One of Jacques Rogge`s favourite
books is the classic `The Little Prince` - a fitting choice
for a man who would become the undisputed King of the
International Olympic Committee (IOC).

But as the 66-year-old Belgian, who is an avid reader
mainly of science, philosophy and history books, told AFP it
was never his avowed intention to be IOC president, It merely
happened by accident.

"You need to have luck in life," he said.

"When in 1976 I decided to stop my career as an athlete
(he was a three-time Olympic yachtsman) aged 34 I went to see
the president of our National Olympic Committee (NOC) and he
said come on board as an athletes representative.”

"Things can happen unexpectedly and when he stepped down
I was asked to replace him. Then the European Olympic
Committee (EOC) asked me to take their chair.

"Juan Antonio Samaranch (then IOC president) asked me in
1991 to become an IOC member and 10 years later a group of
colleagues suggested I run for president. There was no
gameplan. I had the opportunity to be in the right place in
the right time," added Rogge.

Rogge, who is fit for a man of his age and exercises
regularly in Lausanne home of the IOC but no longer sails as
it is by his own admission too time consuming, was present at
the 1972 Olympics when 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were
kidnapped by Palestinian terrorist group Black September and
subsequently killed in a shootout at the airport.

"I was competing that day and I wondered why the
coastguard were escorting my Israeli rival back to the shore,"
said Rogge, whose love of the sea comes from being born on the
coast and his father being a sailor.

"There was an agonising choice to be made by me after the
Games resumed following a two day halt to competition.”

"Some athletes decided to go home and not compete and I
wondered whether I should do the same.”

"However I was a young ambitious guy who had been
supported by his family so I decided to continue."

Rogge, who also played rugby for Belgium, is adamant that
the decision taken by then IOC President Avery Brundage was
the correct one.

"In hindsight I think the decision taken by Avery
Brundage was the right one," said Rogge.

"Had the IOC given in to terrorists I firmly believe that
would have been the end of the Olympics. No one would have
wanted to organise them again."

Rogge, who freely admits that he never visited any
bidding city as he didn`t believe in them and a measure which
he has subsequently cancelled following the Salt Lake City
bribes for votes scandal, has had a varied career having also
been a ringside doctor at boxing matches.

It was something which his wife in particular did not
care for.

Bureau Report