Obit

Former Olympic Committee President Dies At 89

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee, who was responsible for reviving the Olympic tradition, has died in Barcelona of heart failure at age 89. Samaranch salvaged the Olympics from near bankruptcy and boycotts by Africans, Americans, and Soviets that lasted from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Through the Olympic Solidarity program he helped funnel aide to underdeveloped countries, and opened the IOC old boys club to women, elevating women's Olympic sports, according to The New York Times. He also ended what The New York Times called "the sham of amateurism" that forced governments to pay athletes under the table and excluded some of the world's best athletes, such as Lance Armstrong, from the Olympics. Finally, under his two-decade-long tenure at the IOC, the organization acquired a measure of political independence that allowed it to bring the games to China, the world's most populous country, for the first time.