Primo Nebiolo


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A long jumper as a youth, born in Torino, Italy, who studied law before entering the construction industry and moving into sport administration. He built his power base in world sport as president of the International University Sports Federation (1961), the organization that stages the World Student Games; and then as president of Italy's athletics federation (1969–89). Joining the council of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (see International Association of Athletics Federations) in 1972, he won the presidency in 1981, and took the word ‘amateur’ out of its name while introducing a World Championships for professional athletes. He had also become president of the Association of Summer Olympic Federations in 1983. He was elected on to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1991. Dying of a heart attack while still IAAF president, he was called ‘one of the greatest leading sportsmen of this century’ by the president of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Both Samaranch and Nebiolo were actually leading ‘Lords of the Rings’, as Vyv Simson and Andrew Jennings dubbed them (Lords of the Rings: Money, Power and Drugs at the Olympics, 1992). Nebiolo even changed the measurements in one jumping event, to ensure that his home-nation competitor would win. The Nebiolo formula of law–business–sport was symptomatic of the changing organizational and economic basis of international sporting events and competition during the last quarter of the 20th century.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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