— Published 26 September 2023

Samaranch compliments Xi Jinping

Juan Antonio Samaranch, one of the IOC’s vice-presidents, doesn’t hold back his praise and superlatives when it comes to China. Present in Hangzhou since last week for the 2023 Asian Games, he spoke at length to Xinhua. During the interview, he spoke in particular of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s influence on the sporting movement and the country’s prospects of hosting the Olympic Games again. “His commitment, his support for sport and the role that sports and the Olympic Games can play for young people, for society as a whole, is what I consider most important, confided Juan Antonio Samaranch of Xi Jinping. It’s great for the Olympic movement to have such an important partner for sport and international sporting issues.” For the Spanish leader, there is no doubt that China has now become the most important country on the map of major international sporting events. “There were the University Games in Chengdu this year, and now the Asian Games. China will also soon have the World Games (in Chengdu in 2025), and the Asian Winter Games in Harbin (also in 2025). It has probably become the most important organizer of sporting events.” Finally, when asked about the chances of a Chinese Olympic bid, in the medium or long term, Juan Antonio Samaranch did not venture to mention any particular city. “Out of respect and lack of knowledge, I can’t tell you which city has the potential, he suggested to Xinhua. But I can say that the country has many cities that have the capacity, energy and experience to organize the Olympic Games.” Juan Antonio Samaranch played a major role in the preparations for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, as Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission. At the end of last week, he was invited to the official dinner given by President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the 2023 Asian Games.