Rogge officially starts his reign as IOC head

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Jacques Rogge officially took over his duties as president of the International Olympic Committee yesterday. The first IOC vice-president Keba Mbaye handed newly-elected Rogge the key to Chateau de Vidy, the IOC's headquarters on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Switzerland, because former president Juan Antonio Samaranch is in hospital recovering from severe fatigue.

Mbaye described the golden key as ''a symbol of the ship's wheel that you will now be guiding. It will be a difficult task as the ship has become overloaded, capricious and the ocean is tempestuous. But I know you are a good captain."

Rogge, a Belgian surgeon, accepted the key before presenting Samaranch's son, Juan Antonio Jnr, and daughter, Maria Teresa, with one of their own.

"At this moment, as I officially take the keys, my first words are for the one who should have taken a prominent part in the ceremony. Unfortunately he could not be with us but he insisted himself the ceremony go on,'' said Rogge.

"Be reassured I understand the gravity of this moment and its symbolic importance. By handing me these keys you are entrusting me with the leadership of the International Olympic Committee and it is with great enthusiasm that I start my office as president of the IOC."

Rogge, 59, was elected on Monday in Moscow as the eighth president in the IOC's 107-year history.

Samaranch, who had led the IOC for 21 years, collapsed on Wednesday during a radio interview after his return flight from Moscow. The IOC said he was in a stable condition and continuing to improve.

The IOC's director-general, François Carrard, said Samaranch was now out of intensive care but needed to stay in hospital for a few more days' rest.