Dr. Jacques Rogge, a man to remember

On August 29, the sports world and Ghent University said goodbye to an icon. Jacques Rogge has passed away on August 29, 2021, at the age of 79. Count Jacques Rogge, was a highly respected sports administrator, after an active career as a top sailor and rugby player. He was president of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee and from 2001 to 2013 of the IOC, where he placed a very high value on efficiency, ethics and the fight against doping. 

‘Jacky’ Rogge was born in 1942 in Ghent. He studied medicine at Ghent University, after which he obtained a doctorate in medicine and a licentiate in sports medicine. Afterwards he started working as an orthopedic surgeon at the Maria Middelares hospital in Ghent. During that same period, he also taught at the Ghent University and the VUB.

Ghent University member

Although he is best known as the president of the IOC, he has also left a great impression on Ghent University. In 2002, Rogge received an honorary doctorate there. He was credited with the unique combination of being a scientifically grounded doctor, a remarkable sportsman and an international manager.

Even after he conducted research on muscle function during sailing as part of his thesis for the Sports Medicine program in 1972, sports-related research remained close to his heart. He fully recognized the health benefits of physical activity and was an advocate for the organization of physical education and sport for all. We lose a true pioneer but we are immensely proud to still be able to work under his name every day.

the Department of Movement and Sports Science, Ghent University

In 2015, under the impulse of then Rector Paul Van Cauwenberge, the new, state-of-the-art research lab ‘The Sports Science Laboratory – Jacques Rogge’ was opened, where both fundamental and applied sports science research is conducted at top level.

“He was not only a very good surgeon. He also continued to closely follow all scientific evolutions within the profession,” says former rector Paul Van Cauwenberge, who knew him well. “It is therefore only natural that the lab was named after him.” Van Cauwenberge had known Rogge since their times in college.

“We studied together, but I am a few years younger. I followed all of his career very closely, as a doctor, teacher, sportsman and president of the IOC,” Van Cauwenberge says. “I was always amazed at how he could combine those things.” But he was also unique as a human being, says the former rector.

Jacques was an exceptional man. I don’t think there were many like him. He was a person who was very successful and worked hard.

Paul Van Cauwenberge

Jacques Rogge also lent his name to the Olympic Chair ‘Henri de Baillet Latour – Jacques Rogge’, which initiated a successful line of research into ethics in sport within Ghent University.

Not only a sports man…

He became widely known in 2001, when he became one of the top figures in the sports world, as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A position he would hold until 2013. Under his rule, the IOC took a new path. Rogge acted tough on doping, where he advocated zero tolerance. He therefore did not steal his nickname “Mister Clean”.

Rogge was no stranger to the sports world. ‘Jacky’ competed several times in sailing in the Finn class at the Olympics. The first time in 1968 in Mexico, later at the 1968 Games in Munich and finally at the 1976 Games in Montreal. Although there was no Olympic medal in it for Rogge, as a sailor he did become a Belgian champion sixteen times and even a world champion once.

His passion for sports went beyond sailing. He played rugby at ‘Ghent Rugby Football Club’, which he co-founded. Rogge also proved to be a rugby talent and was even selected ten times for the Belgian rugby team.

Noble title(s)

For his achievements, Jacques was held in high regard both at home and abroad. In 1993 he was knighted. In 2013, he received the title of Count from King Philip of Belgium for his achievements. A year later, he also received the noble title of knight in Great Britain.

This article was based on the Dutch article: Jacques Rogge, Olympische atleet en UGent-professor die het tot IOC-voorzitter schopte

BOIC, Ghent University, IOC, Jacques Rogge

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