Talk about a favorable first impression. Jacques Rogge, newly elected president of the International Olympic Committee, wants to stay in the athletes village during the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
No presidential suite for the 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon, a three-time Olympian in yachting. The athletes village, he explains, "is the best place to be in an Olympic Games."
The IOC's election of Belgium's Rogge sends a powerful message about the new direction of the IOC, which has attempted to reform its image and practices in the wake of the Salt Lake bribery scandal. Rogge's selection suggests the international body is serious about making a fresh start and moving the IOC in a positive direction.
Rogge, who has not yet visited Salt Lake City, said his top priority is the success of the 2002 Winter Games. While Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney has been complimentary of outgoing IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch for his help in bringing about policy changes and securing funding to help ensure the 2002 Games are successful, Romney is said to appreciate Rogge's less opulent style for the Olympic movement.
It would appear, at least, that Rogge and Romney share the philosophy that the Olympic Games should focus more on the athletes and less on the engine that drives the Olympic machine.
A physician and member of the World Anti-Doping Agency council, Rogge said another of his priorities is the fight against doping. This should bode well for Romney's vision that all athletes undergo drug testing before the start of the Salt Lake games, as well as the tests conducted while the Games are underway.
Rogge, who speaks Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish, is described as smooth and sophisticated. He brings experience as an athlete and an impressive resume of IOC service.
Rogge appears to be the right person to move the IOC to the next level. This page appreciates Rogge's commitment to the success of the 2002 Winter Games and looks forward to his visits to Utah in the coming months.