Jacques Rogge, the Olympic sailor and orthopedic surgeon from Belgium who led the International Olympic Committee as president for 12 years, has died. He was 79.

The IOC announced his death on Sunday without giving details. Rogge's health had visibly declined when he attended Olympic events since his presidency ended in 2013.

“First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes — and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him," said Thomas Bach, Rogge's successor as president, said in an IOC statement. “His joy in sport was infectious.”


“He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games,” Bach said.

Rogge represented Belgium in rugby and was a world champion in sailing. He competed in the Finn class at three Olympic Games from 1968 through 1976.

He led the European group of Olympic committees before being elected as the IOC's eighth president in 2001.

The IOC said the Olympic flag will be flown at half-mast for five days at Olympic House in Lausanne.

Rogge leaves a wife, Anne, a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.

“Following a private family ceremony, a public memorial service will take place later in the year,” the IOC said, “where members and friends of the Olympic Movement will be able to remember his life and his great contribution to sport.”