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October 9, 2009

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Rogge set for new four-year term as IOC chief

HE has presided over four Olympics and led a determined fight against doping.

After an eight-year term in office, Jacques Rogge is about to embark on a second - and final - four-year mandate as president of the International Olympic Committee. He goes forward with the Olympic brand in remarkably sound shape despite the economic downturn and other challenges.

The 67-year-old Belgian and former orthopedic surgeon is up for re-election today on the final day of the IOC session in Copenhagen. The election is a formality; Rogge is the only candidate.

"If I'm re-elected I will have plenty to keep me busy from early morning to late in the evening for four years," he said.

Rogge was elected the IOC's eighth president in July 2001, defeating three other candidates and taking over from Juan Antonio Samaranch after 21 years in power.

Rogge has overseen successful Summer Olympics in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) and Winter Games in Salt Lake City (2002) and Turin, Italy (2006). Perhaps even more significant was the IOC's vote last Friday to award the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro, sending the Olympics to South America for the first time.

While Rogge didn't vote, Rio's victory over Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago represents an important legacy for his presidency and indicates that he has consolidated his power over the 106-member body.

Majority approval

Another test comes today when the IOC assembly votes on whether to include rugby and golf in the 2016 Games. The latest recommendations were made by the executive board under Rogge's guidance and require majority approval from the members.

Rogge's personality and leadership style has been in sharp contrast with Samaranch, a former Spanish diplomat who used his political skills to work aggressively behind the scenes to get what he wanted.

"Samaranch was a great diplomat. He was entering the Cold War era," IOC member Timothy Fok of China's Hong Kong said. "Now we have a surgeon. A doctor looks at things and thinks, 'Cut or don't cut?' He is a steady hand at the helm."


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