China and the world wait for Rogge's famous last words

Society Materials 22 August 2008 07:01 (UTC +04:00)

Honorary Olympic supremo Juan Antonio Samaranch jumped the gun when he declared the Beijing Olympics "the most successful ever" ahead of Sunday's closing ceremony. ( dpa )

During Samaranch's tenure as IOC boss, the Games of Barcelona 1992, Lillehammer 1994 and Sydney 2000 were declared "The best ever."

Samaranch's successor Jacques Rogge will never use the term because he wants to highlight special aspects of each event. But he has already spoken of "the best athletes' village ever" in Beijing.

The phrase "the most successful ever," made by Samaranch in an interview Thursday with China state broadcaster CCTV, could fit Rogge's pattern as organizers China and the world await the final assessment of the IOC boss at the closing ceremony.

Rogge told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa ahead of the Beijing Games that the decision which phrase to use is not based on his own opinion but that of the entire Olympic Family.

"You know I never said that these were the best Games and this is something I would never say. I will have a qualification for these Games which I believe will reflect the idea of the Olympic Family," Rogge said.

"By the end of the Games I ask them (the athletes) 'What's your impression of the Games, did you like it?'"

"And I do the same with the leaders of the International (Sports) Federations, I do the same with my colleagues of the IOC, I speak to the sponsors and the broadcasters and then I discuss this together with my executive board and then we come to an agreement."

It takes huge diplomatic skill to find the right words as Olympic hosts obviously don't like to be offended, an issue which is especially sensitive in Asia.

Rogge will have to take into account the landmark venues such as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, an army of helpful volunteers and great competition, but also broken promises by Chinese organizers on media freedom and other issues.

So far Rogge has done well and found the right words since taking the IOC top job in 2001.

"I said in Salt Lake City (2002) they were 'superb Games,' I said to Athens (2004) they were 'unforgettable dream Games' and I said for Torino (2006) they were 'truly magnificent Games.'"

"So I will find something that will reflect the feelings of the people," he told dpa.

Samaranch did also not always use the same phrase ever since he started the rating in Barcelona.

The 1996 event in Atlanta, overshadowed by a host of problems ranging from transportation and over-commercialisation to the bomb at centennial Park, were labelled "indeed most exceptional."

The 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, received a better verdict from the Spanish IOC boss: "You have presented to the world the best organisation in the history of the Olympic Winter Games."

Samaranch's final famous last words came in Sydney and will be vaild for eternity unless a future IOC boss decides to dig out the phrase again.

"I am proud and happy to proclaim that you have presented to the world the best Olympic Games ever," Samaranch said.