Former IOC president Jacques Rogge dies at age 79

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Jacques Rogge, who led the International Olympic Committee for 12 years (2001-13), has died at the age of 79.

The IOC announced his passing Sunday without providing a cause of death. He leaves a wife, Anne, a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

Rogge, a native of Belgium, succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001) as the eighth president in the organization's history as the IOC recovered from the Salt Lake City corruption scandal. Current president Thomas Bach took over from Rogge in 2013.

"Jacques loved sport and being with athletes – and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious," Bach said in a statement.

"He was an accomplished President, helping to modernize and transform the IOC," Bach's statement continued. "He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games."

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), listens to a reporters' question during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), listens to a reporters' question during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.

Before his presidency, Rogge headed the European group and Belgian Olympic committees. He was also an orthopedic surgeon with a degree in sports medicine.

As an athlete, Rogge played rugby for the national team and won a Belgian championship. He was a successful sailor, with 16 national titles and one world championship; Rogge competed in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics in the men's Finn class.

The IOC said the Olympic flag will be flown at half-staff for five days at Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland. The family will have a private ceremony, but a public memorial service will take place later this year.

Rogge was elected president three days after the body awarded the 2008 Summer Games to Beijing, and he steered the first Olympics in China. Before the event, Rogge said the Chinese government would not censor the Internet for journalists, only for the IOC to retract the statement and admit Internet censorship.

Rogge also faced backlash for criticizing legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's celebration during the 100 meter dash in Beijing. He later clarified his issues were with Bolt's gesticulations during the race.

The host cities between 2010-20 (Vancouver, London, Sochi, Rio, PyeongChang and Tokyo) were selected during his presidency. Rogge also attempted to curtail doping and touted reforms during his tenure. However, the state-sponsored doping program in Russia marred the 2014 Sochi Games.

Rogge served as Honorary President after his time as president. The Associated Press reported that Rogge's health had "visibly declined" when he was seen at Olympic events after his presidency.

“The entire Olympic Movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport,” Bach said.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jacques Rogge, ex-International Olympic Committee president, dies