Juan Antonio Samaranch
Guides Ioc To Financial Success
Despite the criticism of certain aspects of the Olympic operation, there can be no argument with the overall success of the IOC under the direction of Samaranch. At the time he took over the reins of the organization in 1980, the IOC reportedly had only $500,000 in its treasury. In mid-2001, the committee's coffers held approximately $350 million. In 1980 worldwide television rights brought in $122 million; the current host, NBC, paid $1.8 billion for the rights to five Olympics. According to a report in New Zealand's Sunday Star Times, under Samaranch's leadership, Olympic broadcast hours increased from 500 to 3,800; ticket sales swelled from $13 million to $625 million; and total income from marketing rose tenfold to $3.7 billion.
Marring the Olympic success story was the scandal related to Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games. In June 1995 the IOC announced the selection of Utah's largest city as the site for the 2002 Winter Games. A little over three years later, reports surfaced in the media alleging that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) had in effect bribed IOC members to win approval. In the end, the ensuing scandal cost ten IOC members their jobs. While Samaranch himself was never implicated in the scandal, he and other top IOC officials were widely criticized for their failure to thoroughly investigate earlier complaints of inappropriate behavior.
Samaranch managed to survive the Salt Lake City scandal but about seven months before the Winter Games of 2002, he stepped down as IOC president, surrendering the post to Belgian surgeon Jacques Rogge, a former Olympic sailor. But Samaranch will never stray far from the Olympic movement, having been named Honorary President for Life shortly before he stepped down. He also presided over the selection of his son, Juan Antonio Jr., as a new delegate to the IOC. In his formal farewell to IOC members, Samaranch said: "Thank you for having allowed me to serve the Olympic movement. Goodbye and hasta la vista." Despite the taint of the Salt Lake City scandal, there can be little doubt that Samaranch left the organization in far better shape than that in which he found it more than two decades earlier.
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