Monday, June 25, 2007
Samaranch's Farewell Tour
Former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch is in Beijing these few days. The 87 year-old looks like he's on his farewell tour and the Chinese are giving him the VIP treatment all the way.
Today he was at Renmin University receiving an honorary professorship, as the post secondary institution has established an Olympic studies program researching the social and economic benefits of hosting the Games. Experts from the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia are part of this think tank.
Samaranch said his love for China started when he first visited in 1978 and after he was elected president of the IOC he encouraged the Chinese to bid for the Olympics. He himself felt China was robbed of the 2000 Games when they went to Sydney. But he's now pleased that Beijing is hosting the Olympics next year. He declared, "I am sure these Olympics will be the best Olympics in history," to which the crowd of mostly university students clapped loudly.
The university then showered him with a number of gifts, including a massive monochromatic oil portrait of him. I wonder where he's going to hang that.
He said the current president, Jacques Rogge will open the Games in Beijing next year. But I don't think that's going to stop Samaranch from coming back for an encore visit.