Former Olympic supremo Samaranch dies (UPDATE)

Former Olympic supremo Samaranch dies (UPDATE)

Former Olympic supremo Juan Antonio Samaranch has died in a Barcelona hospital, the International Olympic Committee confirmed on Wednesday. Samaranch was 89, DPA reported.

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was deeply saddened to learn today of the death of Juan Antonio Samaranch. He was widely credited with renewing and fundamentally changing the landscape of the Olympic Movement," the IOC said in a statement.

"I cannot find the words to express the distress of the Olympic Family," said IOC president Jacques Rogge.

The Spanish news agency EFE said that Samaranch died at 1.25 pm (1125 GMT), just minutes after his doctor Rafael Esteban Murur issued a statement saying he was in an irreversible shock.

Samaranch was doing "very badly," his partner Lluisa Sallent, who arrived to visit him in the morning, had said.

"The most important thing now is to be at his side," Sallent said, explaining that Samaranch was surrounded by his children and other family members.

Samaranch arrived at the hospital on Sunday walking without help, after feeling generally unwell and breathless. On Tuesday, the IOC president was sedated and unconscious, in the company of his family.

"He is currently being subjected to intensive care and his prognosis is very serious," Mur said. "We cannot be optimistic because due to his age and to the chronic complications he suffers from you cannot be optimistic."

The former sports official has already had several health scares in recent years. In July 2001, after leaving the IOC leadership in the hands of his Belgian successor Jacques Rogge, the Spaniard spent 11 days in hospital to recover from "extreme fatigue."

In October, he was admitted to hospital in Monaco for heart failure.

Samaranch was a key figure in Olympic history, by leading the IOC down the path of commercialization which turned it into a profitable business. In 1998-99 he faced a major corruption scandal.

"I am personally deeply saddened by the death of the man who built up the Olympic Games of the modern era, a man who inspired me, and whose knowledge of sport was truly exceptional," said Rogge.

"Thanks to his extraordinary vision and talent, Samaranch was the architect of a strong and unified Olympic Movement.

"I can only pay tribute to his tremendous achievements and legacy, and praise his genuine devotion to the Olympic Movement and its values. We have lost a great man, a mentor and a friend who dedicated his long and fulfilled life to Olympism."

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