Rogge elected IOC president

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The Independent Online

Jacques Rogge, a Belgian surgeon with a pristine reputation and consensus–building style, has been elected president of the International Olympic Committee.

Rogge won easily in the second round of a secret ballot, defeating four other candidates. He succeeds Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is stepping down after 21 years in office.

Rogge defeated Kim Un–yong of South Korea, Dick Pound of Canada, Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Anita DeFrantz of the United States. DeFrantz was eliminated in the first round of balloting.

Rogge becomes the eighth president in the 107–year history of the IOC and the second Belgian to head the committee. Henri de Baillet–Latour served from 1925–42.

"My first words are for my IOC colleagues. I thank them for having shown their confidence and elected me," Rogge said, speaking in Moscow's ornate Hall of Columns, with Samaranch standing beside him.

"My second thoughts are for my four fellow competitors. We had a long and very dignified campaign," he said. "In every competition, there is going to be one winner. In this competition, there is no loser."

Rogge was elected to an eight–year term. After that, he will be eligible to seek a second four–year mandate.

Rogge's victory reinforced the European–dominated nature of the IOC. Except for Avery Brundage, an American who served from 1952–72, all IOC presidents have been Europeans.

Rogge (pronounced ROH–guh) benefited from a powerful support base in Europe, which has 57 members.

His shortage of political enemies, linguistic skills (he speaks five languages), non–confrontational style and quiet charm, were other advantages.

The urbane Rogge enjoys a "Mr. Clean" image, unscathed by the bribery scandal involving Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games. He boasted that he has never visited bid cities.

Rogge, a three–time Olympian in sailing, is a relative newcomer to the IOC, having been appointed in 1991. But he rose rapidly through the ranks and was elevated to the ruling executive board in 1998.

Rogge is head of the European Olympic Committees and also has held high–profile roles as IOC coordinator of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Games, and as vice chairman of the IOC's anti–doping panel.