The “eternal Olympian”: Walther Tröger died at the age of 91

Sport The “Eternal Olympian”

Walther Tröger died at the age of 91

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Walther Tröger died

Walther Tröger died at the age of 91

Source: dpa / Boris Roessler

Walther Tröger was an influential figure in the world of sports politics for decades. He headed the National Olympic Committee as General Secretary and President, and was a member of the International Olympic Committee for 20 years.

Dhe assassination attempt on September 5, 1972 on the Olympic Games in Munich was probably the greatest challenge in Walther Tröger’s decades-long career as a sports official. As Mayor of the Olympic Village, he negotiated with the Palestinian terrorists who had taken Israeli athletes, coaches and judges hostage. “I was there until the end,” reported Tröger, who died on Wednesday at the age of 91, later. “It was my job to keep extending the ultimatums.” 17 people were killed in the attack.

As his family announced, Tröger died peacefully from “age-related causes”. The son Wolfram Tröger and his daughter Sabine Groß praised him as a person who used “his sense of responsibility, his decision-making clarity, humanity and reliability” all his life in the service of German and international sport.

Read our interview with Walther Tröger on his 90th birthday here

1972 Olympics Negotiation with a terrorist

The International Olympic Committee emphasized the importance of Tröger’s work for German and international sport. “Walther Tröger made a great contribution to the IOC, first as a sports director, then as a member and finally as an honorary member,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. He has worked tirelessly for the administration of sport over the years and “significantly influenced” the development of national and global sport. The President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation also expressed his grief. “We bow to a unique life achievement in the sense of sport,” said Alfons Hörmann.

Bitter end of his career

Born in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, the lawyer began his career in sports politics at the General German University Association, which he helped to direct as General Secretary from 1953 to 1961. Tröger then moved to the National Olympic Committee (NOK) in the same function until he was promoted to sports director of the International Olympic Committee (1983 to 1990).

In 1992, the practical functionary succeeded the visionary Willi Daume as NOK President (until 2002) – and in the end he experienced one of the bitterest hours of his career. In a fight vote for re-election, he lost to Klaus Steinbach. “I am dissatisfied and feel that I have been treated unfairly,” complained Tröger at the time, deeply affected. “Of course that’s not the finish I imagined.”

Walther Tröger died

Walther Tröger at a speech in Jerusalem in 2012, 40 years after the Olympic attack in Munich

Source: dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

He gained a great reputation in the IOC. The “Frankfurter Rundschau” once called him the “Eternal Olympian”. From 1989 to 2009 he was an IOC member and was then made an honorary member. As Chef de Mission, he led the German Olympic team eight times at games from 1976 to 2002. Tröger has seen 27 Olympic Games since Tokyo 1964.

The former basketball player was not only a connoisseur of world sport, but also a man of influence who clearly expressed and polarized his opinion. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), for example, he claimed that the merger of NOK and the German Sports Confederation (DSB) was wrong and also the reason for the failure of the three Olympic applications during this period.

Criticism of the IOC – “Olympia is in crisis”

Even at the Olympic Games in Rio, he did not hold back in the discussion about a complete exclusion of Russia because of systematic doping and the rejection of the ban by the IOC. “It would be good if the IOC set an example on this. It’s about the credibility of the sport, ”said Tröger at the time.

He didn’t give the IOC a good report at all. “Olympia is in crisis,” he said on the occasion of his 90th birthday in February 2019. Despite the IOC’s 2020 reform agenda, people still believed that the Olympic Games were all about money and prestige, but not about the interests of the Host. That is why there is hardly any interest in the games in cities in countries that are really suitable. That is why the IOC only deals with “backwoodsmen”, “who have no idea and do not even think Olympic”.

One cannot accuse the militant functionary himself, who has the honorary title “Mr. Olympia ”found correct. “I gave the Olympics a lot – and the Olympics gave me a lot,” said Tröger.


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