New Hand on Games Helm

THE Olympic movement has never been more expansive and prosperous, thanks largely to outgoing International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch. Mr. Samaranch, more than any other person, is responsible for what we know as the "modern" - i.e., the lushly sponsored and presented - Olympics.

The baton now passes to Belgian physician and former Olympic sailor Jacques Rogge (see story, page 1). He is considered Samaranch's chosen successor, a man likely to perpetuate the business model pioneered during the Spaniard's 20-year term.

Most important, Mr. Rogge has a spotless ethical record. Though long a member of the IOC, he wasn't tainted by recent site-bidding scandals and should be able to solidify reforms designed to root out corruption. In that regard, he'd be wise to continue the curb on visits by IOC members to prospective Olympics sites - a practice that encouraged bribery.

Other challenges facing the new IOC chief: Following through on the antidoping campaign that is attempting to cut back on the use of so-called performance-enhancing drugs by athletes; deciding whether the Games have grown too large, which involves touchy questions of which sports to include; and, not least, oversight of the sensitive run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games.

May the new president steer a firm course, if not smooth sailing.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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