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Date 17.07.10 Hit 608
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UnYong Kim's Memoir 73(Graphys)


              


 

73 Samaranch:

Making the Olympics into the Greatest Festival

of the Mankind in Peace Time 1

 

 

 

 

 


 


 
IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch is my life time friend who has maintained his position in the IOC for over 20 years. He is older than I but we have brotherhood. Samaranch did not support me during my IOC President Elections, but his work for the Olympic Movement must be highly praised.

I first met Samaranch at the NOC General Assembly in Rome, 1975. He seemed overwhelming from the very first, but had a certain mysterious friendliness. The following year, at the GAISF General Assembly in Barcelona, he sent flowers in his name (IOC Vice President at the time) to my room.

The decisive event that brought us closer to each other was from when Seoul started to bid for the 1988 Olympics. The Seoul Olympics opened with the most troubles that the IOC had ever seen, but it became the greatest Olympic Games of all time. When there were problems raised with the Competition schedule and TV rights, we solved the issues together and rapidly became close friends.

International sports were led by the battle between IOC President Samaranch, and GAISF(General Association of International Sports Federations) President Thomas Keller, who were involved in fierce battles to gain the upper hand. Under these circumstances I ran as a nominee for the GAISF Presidency.

President Keller resigned and I was unanimously voted the new president of GAISF. My first move as the president was not a competition with the IOC but to make a peaceful and cooperative relationship. I believed that the foundation of the Olympic spirit is a contribution to world peace, and this was agreed by Samaranch. He claimed that an end must be put to sports becoming a place of battle for power. I completely agreed and  GAISF developed into a technical partner as 2ndpillar of movement.

Samaranch had a lot of influence in global sports. He was driven toward the future, with a keen ability to predict. He had firm beliefs about his work and was a perfectionist. He looked cold on the outside, but he was kind to those around him, and he was compassionate. Samaranch never failed to
compliment his co-workers. He despised people who worked only for personal glory and fame. It is undeniable that Samaranch is the man behind success of Olympics to become the single greatest festival of mankind in peace time.

Samaranch was elected President of the IOC in 1980, Moscow Session. He had become the leader of the most prestigious sports organization in the world. However, the Olympic organization and movement were in difficult at the time. The Modern Olympics, established by Pierre de Coubertin in 1896, saw many hardships, including the U.S boycott of the 21st Olympics in Moscow. IOC was almost at brinks of extinction financially.

In the beginning, the Olympics were just a small part of international expositions. The Olympics held under the Hitler regime in 1936, the 11th Berlin Olympics, though political, was probably the first to boast the characteristics of an international sports competition. The Olympics took a temporary break during World War II, and were held again in 1948 in London. From then, the IOC faced various issues regarding racial discrimination, political issues, and financial problems.

1982년 국기원을 방문한 사마란치.jpg
▲ The visiting Kukkiwon of Samarainch in 1982.04.08

All of these issues broke out at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. In Switzerland, even abolishing the IOC was discussed. The 1976 Montreal Olympics brought about a serious financial crisis to the province of Quebec, and the 1980 Moscow Olympics were boycotted by western countries against the USSR attacks in Afghanistan. The Olympic spirit, seeking world peace and harmony, was becoming weaker than ever.

In this crisis, the newly elected IOC President Samaranch used his leadership to reclaim the glory of the Olympics. He has rich experiences serving as NOC President, Athlete leader, Sports Minister, Governor of Cataluna, Moscow ambassador and IOC Vice President. He was a person that respected and followed the Olympic ideals, which is to open a bright and lively future for the youth with educational value, to bring abundance to mankind, and open up a better society.

Samaranch’s strongest weapon is that he knows the reality better than anyone else, and can predict what will happen in the future. Samaranch opted for a commercial Olympics, directly going against the ideals of amateurism. He made the Olympics a commercial economic success. Many were opposed, but he never doubted his beliefs and never gave in. He said sports need money to develop sports.

As the 1984 LA Olympics became the first profitable Olympic Games, many countries set out to host the Olympics. However, the only problem was that Samaranch thought it would be ideal if the profits were reinvested for sports. The hosting of the Olympics helped to revitalize the economy of the host country, and the profits were used to promote the Olympic movement, developing the Olympics as an international event and progressive social movement. The popularization of the Olympics, a 100 year long mission, was finally achieved through the hands of Samaranch.




 



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