Lord Killanin,
sixth IOC President

Sir Michael Morris, Lord Killanin, the third Baron Killanin of Dublin and Spiddal, succeeded Avery Brundage on 21 August 1972 to become the sixth President of the International Olympic Committee.

At that time, he had been an IOC Member for 22 years (since 1950), and he would serve only one eight-year term of office, but it was a tumultuous time.

Killanin was named President of the Olympic Council of Ireland in 1950, and in 1952 was asked to join the International Olympic Committee. In 1965, he was named the IOC Head of Protocol and Chairman of the Press Commission, the latter being a natural role for the former journalist. In 1967, he was appointed to the Executive Board as 3rd Vice-President of the IOC. In 1970, he was named 1st Vice-President.

Following his election as president in 1972, Killanin ran the IOC out of his home in Dublin, with a phone, telefax and secretary.

Killanin’s major accomplishment as President was the resolution of the Chinese problem, facilitating recognition of both mainland China and Chinese Taipeh. The other major accomplishment of the Killanin presidency was the loosening of rules on amateurism at the Olympic Games. Killanin attempted to lift some of the restrictions so that the Western nations’ athletes could enjoy some of the same state, or business, support given to the athletes from Communist nations.

In 1973, Killanin organised an Olympic Congress in Varna, Bulgaria – the first in 43 years. In 1975, he formed the Tripartite Commission, which was a coalition between the IOC, the NOCs and the IFs, and he served as its first Chairman.

Killanin had to deal with boycotts in 1976 and 1980. In 1976, African nations announced a boycott to protest a recent New Zealand rugby tour of South Africa. Although rugby was no longer an Olympic sport, and the IOC had no control over it, the African nations were adamant, and eventually 22 of them boycotted the Olympic Games 1976, despite Killanin’s diplomatic efforts to avoid it. Killanin fought diligently to keep South Africa out of the Olympic Movement until the country had ended the use of apartheid in sport. South Africa would not return to the Olympic fold until 1991, after the fall of apartheid as a political system.

IOC Presidents


More about IOC history

back to top