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Rogge wins top Olympics job

Rogge was the favourite in the race to succeed Samaranch
Rogge was the favourite in the race to succeed Samaranch  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Belgian Jacques Rogge has been elected as the new president of the International Olympic Committee.

A yachting competitor in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics, he succeeds Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is stepping down after 21 years in office.

Rogge, 59, a Belgian orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in sports medicine, was favourite to take the post.

His election was announced in Moscow's ornate Hall of Columns, with Samaranch standing beside him.

Jacques Rogge takes IOC's top job (July 16)

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FACT BOX: New IOC president Jacques Rogge  

IN-DEPTH: How Beijing won the Games  
TIMELINE: The life and times of Juan Antonio Samaranch  

PROFILE: Samaranch leaves a mixed Olympic legacy  

He said: "My first words are for my IOC colleagues. I thank them for having shown their confidence and elected me. My second thoughts are for my four fellow competitors. We had a long and very dignified campaign."

He said he "will definitely want to work closely with them because they have so many talents."

Rogge then paid tribute to Samaranch, presenting him with the Olympic Order in Gold, the highest honor in the Olympic movement.

"In recognition of your outstanding merits in the course of world sport and your faithfulness to the Olympic ideal ... I award you with the Olympic Order," Rogge said.

CNN's Patrick Snell described Rogge as "a natural diplomat with a reputation as a problem solver." He added: "He is a very,very popular choice."

Rogge won in a landslide in the second round of a secret ballot at an IOC meeting in Moscow, defeating four other candidates.

He 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. He is also vice chairman of the IOC's anti-doping panel.

His victory appeared locked up after a final day and night of intense lobbying and negotiations in the lobbies and corridors of the IOC hotel in the Russian capital.

He 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.

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.

Samaranch announces Beijing will host the 2008 Games, one of his last acts as IOC president  

He was elected to the IOC in 1991, making him the shortest-serving member of any of the five candidates.

His reputation is that of a reformer -- he paid no visits to any of the cities bidding for the 2002 winter Games, which Salt Lake City eventually won.

He was also head of the coordinating committee for the 2000 Sydney Games, which in effect meant he was the IOC member "in charge" of the Games, and he serves in that same post for Athens 2004.

"You have to be able to unite the people of the world within the organisation," Rogge said. "You have also to be able to defend the values of sport, and they are threatened by doping, by violence, by corruption."

Five IOC members vyed to replace Samaranch, who did not endorse a successor. The election began at 11 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), and the winner was announced an hour later.

With 110 members eligible to vote, Anita DeFrantz of the United States was eliminated in the first round.

The other candidates were South Korea's Kim Un-yong, Dick Pound of Canada and Hungary's Pal Schmitt.

Pound, 59, a finalist in the 1960 Rome Olympics in several swimming events, had led the Salt Lake City scandal probe and is president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He is credited with negotiating lucrative marketing and television rights that have made the Olympics into a commercial success.

But Pound's record on reform was also his handicap. The bribery investigation implicated 24 IOC members, 10 of whom either resigned or were expelled, and many resent Pound, who meted out punishment.

South Korean IOC member Kim Un-Yong, 70, emerged as an unlikely leading contender, the only one of the five to have been implicated in the bribery scandal.

His son was found to have received a no-work job through the Salt Lake bid committee; Kim was reprimanded but not dismissed.

Samaranch tenure transforms Olympics

Samaranch, a Spaniard, presided over 10 summer and winter Olympic Games. He will be remembered for smoothing out political differences and helping to transform the Games into a commercial powerhouse.

His tenure began with the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games, which followed the financially disastrous 1976 Montreal Games.

The troubles with Moscow sent Samaranch, the former Spanish ambassador to the Soviet Union, on a whirlwind tour, visiting world and sport leaders, and trying to restore the Olympics' prestige.

That feat was achieved with the overwhelming success of the Olympics in 1984 in Los Angeles, which transformed the Games into a profitable, commercially viable event despite a Soviet lead boycott.

The U.S. basketball "Dream Team" competing at the 1992 Barcelona Games helped mark the entry of professional athletes into the Olympics, which Samaranch had pushed for years.

In 1998, when an IOC member blew the whistle on the Salt Lake bribery scandal, Samaranch was forced to begin difficult reforms in an organisation many viewed as rife with corruption.

He was also tasked with persuading important sponsors not to abandon the Olympics, thereby withdrawing millions of dollars in revenue.

The resulting investigation led to the creation of an ethics committee, the ban on members visiting prospective host cities, and an overwhelming vote of confidence for Samaranch.

• International Olympic Committee
• Beijing 2008

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