'Good-bye to the lord of the rings'

BARCELONA - Hundreds of people, including top athletes and politicians, yesterday paid tribute to former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch as he lay in state in Barcelona.

BARCELONA - Hundreds of people, including top athletes and politicians, yesterday paid tribute to former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch as he lay in state in Barcelona.

"Samaranch changed everything, he made the Olympic Games what they are today, the world's main sports competition," said IOC president Jacques Rogge at a ceremony at the headquarters of the Catalan regional government.

Samaranch passed away from a cardiorespiratory arrest at a Barcelona hospital on Wednesday at the age of 89.

Speaking on behalf of her family, Samaranch's daughter Maria Teresa expressed her gratitude for the tributes paid by world leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Spanish newspapers all paid tribute to Samaranch yesterday.

"Good-bye to the lord of the rings," wrote centre-right daily El Mundo. - Sapa-AFP

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