Sports News

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By Peter Smith

Yes, it's the sport and let's begin with that with Czech reaction to the election of Jacques Rogge as the new President of the International Olympic Committee. At the IOC Congress in Moscow, the outgoing Juan Antonio Samaranch handed over the reigns of one the most powerful bodies in the world to Rogge, a doctor from Belgium. The 41-year-old fought off four other challengers after two rounds of voting.

Probably the most evident change in the Olympic movement during Samaranch's time in office was the monumental shift away from the Games amateur status to professional. According to Karel Pilny, President of the Czech Athletics Association, Samaranch was determined to pull the Olympic movement out of the past.

"He changed a lot. He changed not only a lot, he changed nearly everything in the Olympic movement, and I think it was in the right way. Maybe some people can say that professionals taking part in the Olympics is not what Byrom Decouberte meant. But to say it honestly, the time is here and a new time means that all the best should be there and it was the great success of Mr. Samaranch. Of course, the commercialization of the Games, is maybe for somebody not fully acceptable, but for the new era it's the only possibility of how to go."

One of Jacques Rogge's first assignments will be to deal with the fallout from the IOC's decision to award the 2008 Games to Beijing - that and the democratization of a body still reeling from the 2002 Salt Lake City scandal. Karel Pilny again.

"Mr. Rogge, as I know him personally, is the right person. He is a very good diplomat, and that is important. It is extremely important that the body has great power because in such a case not only the Olympics but sport can go forward. On the other hand, I have said from time to time that such a body is one of most undemocratic bodies in the world. He will try to change it - he will do that for sure. But how he will be successful, and how much more democracy he will bring into this old body is for me a very open question."

Just quickly turning to hockey and please don't worry fans of the Detroit Red Wings - Dominic Hasek is OK. The Czech goaltender - who signed for the Red Wings from Buffalo Sabres earlier this month - was admitted to hospital in his home Pardubice last week with a suspected viral infection. However, according to witness, on Thursday morning, he just walked out. Guess he's not as used to the food as he once was.