China opens museum honoring Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch

Tianjin, China, Apr 21 (EFE).- The northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Sunday inaugurated a memorial museum to pay tribute to the late ex-president of the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, in the presence of his successor, Jacques Rogge, and family members of the Barcelona native.

Samaranch is without doubt the most famous and beloved Spaniard in China - its citizens feel that his support was vital in organizing the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing - and starting Sunday the country is devoting to him what is probably its largest and most ambitious museum in honor of a foreigner.

The Spanish IOC chief, who died three years ago at age 89, was "a visionary who strengthened and united the Olympic movement," as well as "a friend ... (who) left a great legacy that will be preserved for perpetuity," Rogge said.

The building, with a floor plan in the shape of a ring and the design of which was contributed to by one of Samaranch's granddaughters, architect Ana Gras, was the initiative of Taiwan's representative to the IOC, Wu Ching-Kuo, the president of the International Boxing Association.

The museum displays 16,000 of Samaranch's personal items, from medals and trophies he won as a young man in different sports to a reproduction of his IOC office, furniture from his home, sports clothing belonging to him, pictures and photographs of him with his family and even bottles of cologne that he used during his life.