Olympics: Warm tributes paid to retiring Rogge

International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidency candidate German lawyer's and IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach (centre) looks on as outgoing IOC president Jacques Rogge passes behind during the IOC's 125th Session, in Buenos Aires, on Sept 8, 2013.&nb
International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidency candidate German lawyer's and IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach (centre) looks on as outgoing IOC president Jacques Rogge passes behind during the IOC's 125th Session, in Buenos Aires, on Sept 8, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge is not one who likes to be the centre of attention on a personal level but he could not avoid it on the penultimate day of his 12 years in charge on Monday.

The 71-year-old Belgian - who was elected to the post in succession to Juan Antonio Samaranch in Moscow in 2001 - was presiding over his final IOC Session and despite forbidding members to express their gratitude so as to save time, many refused to accede to his demand.

One of those to do so was IOC vice-president Thomas Bach, the favourite of the six men vying to succeed him in Tuesday's election.

"I will be disobedient now as you have reached the end of your mandate," said 59-year-old Bach.

"I ask for your understanding Mr President because having served under you for 12 years as Judicial Commission chairman and as vice-president three times I think it is only normal I make this gesture.

"I would like to express my gratitude for your support throughout the years on being behind me whenever there were difficult issues.

"With all your very clear directives we knew we could come up with measures against doping and have your support.

"We knew you would never waver. That you would always support the fight against doping." Mr Rogge, whose reign has seen the IOC's image restored, remained impassive but delivered one of his trademark dry self-deprecatory remarks.

"Your disobedience tells me that I have reached the level of irrelevance," he said.

Mr Rogge, who competed in yachting at three Olympics, was also presented with a portrait of him by Kuwaiti IOC member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

"Thank you. He looks more like my younger brother," commented Mr Rogge about the likeness.

Mr Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), told AFP he ranked high in the list of past presidents.

"He is probably one of the best presidents the IOC has ever had. Firstly because he loves sport and has ensured the priority is the athletes," said the 64-year-old Irishman, who faces his own election challenge in two weeks.

"Secondly, as president he has recognised, encouraged and supported the UCI efforts in anti-doping policies over the past several years.

"With regard to me and my own position he likes to say, and it is a term he likes to use, never throw the bath out with the bath water." Princess Haya Al-Hussein of Jordan - president of the Equestrian Federation - paid an emotional tribute as proceedings drew to a close.

Princess Haya, wife of the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, highlighted how he had succeeded in restoring the lustre to the IOC's image tarnished by the bribes for votes scandal that haunted the final years of Samaranch's reign.

"You have been kind and selfless," she said.

"But ultimately I believe your legacy will be that you brought us out of the darkest days and replaced it with good governance."