16 Oct 2020
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is deeply saddened to learn of the death of IOC Honorary Member Günther Heinze, at the age of 97.
A civil servant with a political science degree, Mr Heinze also had a sports teacher’s certificate and practised basketball, volleyball, athletics and skiing.
He first ventured into sports administration in 1954 as Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). After that, Mr Heinze served in many other organisations, especially in basketball, as he was a referee for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) from 1952 to 1956.
Starting with a period as President of the Basketball Section (1952-1955), he then became a member of the Presidium of the Basketball Association of the GDR (1955-1970). He also joined the FIBA Financial Commission (1956-1960) and was a Vice-President of the FIBA Commission for International Organisation (1964-1972).
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Günther Heinze was a very engaged IOC Member for many years, whom I got to know during my time in the IOC Athletes’ Commission. Up to his death he followed developments in the Olympic Movement in a very interested and positive way. It was widely appreciated how he paved the way for the reorganisation of sport in Germany after the reunification in 1990 by offering his resignation as an IOC Member.”
In addition to his other sports administration engagements – Vice-President of the Sports and Gymnastics Union of the GDR for international relations (1957-1989) and member of the Presidium of the Volleyball Association of the GDR (1970-1984) – he also held key roles in the Olympic Movement domestically.
Mr Heinze was Vice-President of the National Olympic Committee of the GDR between 1955 and 1972 as well as from 1982 to 1989, and Secretary General from 1973 to 1982.
His second stint as NOC Vice-President followed his 1981 entry in the IOC, where he served in several Commissions as an IOC Member: Olympic Solidarity (1973-1980), Radio (1983-1987), Radio and Television (1988-1990), Study and Evaluation for the Preparation of the Olympic Games (1985-1988), and Olympic Programme (1989-1991). He became an IOC Honorary Member in 1992.
Mr Heinze’s international activities were not restricted to sports, as he was also a member of the Presidium of the International Friendship League of the GDR and the Presidium of the UNESCO Commission of the GDR until 1990.
The IOC expresses its deepest sympathies to Günther Heinze’s family. As a mark of respect, the Olympic flag will be flown at half-mast at Olympic House.
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.4 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
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