Rio 2016 mourns Samaranch

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The Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) and Rio 2016 Games Organising Committee decreed a three day official mourning period following the death of former president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch.

He died on Wednesday 21 April 2010, at the Quirãn Hospital in Barcelona, where he had been admitted due to cardiac problems. The chairman was 89 years old. Samaranch presided over the IOC from 1980 to 2001 and was responsible for transforming the Olympic Games into the biggest multi–sport event in the world. President of BOC and Rio 2016 Committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, lamented the death of the one he considers, along with FIFA president of honour, João Havelange, to be the most important sports leader of all times. "Juan Antonio Samaranch transformed the history of the Olympic Games. From a deficient and with no commercial or media appeal, Samaranch made the Olympic Games the biggest show on the planet, with the dissemination of olympic values all over the world. Thanks to his strategic vision, the Olympic brand became valued and the dispute to host the Olympic Games became a race among great countries, even involving world leaders, and evolved on all its fronts turning into one of the strongest industries in the world, with direct benefits to athletes. He also started the fight against doping. All we have today in terms of Olympic Games started with Juan Antonio Samaranch visions. It is an irreparable loss for the world of sports, " stated Nuzman. The BOC and Rio 2016 Committee president recalled the excellent relationship he always had with the former IOC president. When he was the head of the Beach Volleyball World Council, Nuzman invited Samaranch to attend the World Championship in Rio de Janeiro. "I remember the decisive participation Samaranch had on the inclusion of beach volleyball on the Olympic Programme. His visit to Rio, in 1993, guaranteed the inclusion of that modality in the Olympic Games. I received valuable advices from the former IOC president, and I have always followed them, " he explained. Curiously, the campaign that culminated with the election of Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympic Games, with a direct dispute on the final IOC voting coming from the city of Madrid, for which Samaranch had worked intensely, had its origins from an advice from the Spaniard to Nuzman. "He had told me: if Brazil wants to try to host the Olympic Games, the country has to first host a big multi–sport event, such as the Pan American Games; The excellent organization of the Rio 2007 gave us the basis for the Rio 2016 winning project. Even being on opposite sides of the dispute, there had always been a lot of respect between us. The Brazilian oOympic sports will be forever thankful to Juan Antonio Samaranch", claimed Nuzman. Meanwhile, The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games said it was also deeply saddened by the death of Samaranch. London 2012 Organising Committee Chair Seb Coe said: "I have lost a friend, one who moulded my path through sport from my early 20s, and the world has lost an inspirational man. A man who challenged us all to fight for sport, its primacy and autonomy, a fight he led fearlessly from the front creating an extraordinary sporting movement that reaches millions of people around the world. He was quite simply the most intuitive leader I have ever met. "

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