DAPHNE, Ala. – Dr. Zhenliang He, known as “Mr. Olympics” in his native country of China, passed away in Beijing on Sunday, 4 January 2015. He was a man of sport, culture and art and considered one of the most influential Chinese sports administrators in history. He was best remembered for his role as President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, his advocacy in connecting Chinese sport to the rest of the world, and his crucial role in the successful bid and execution of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He served on the International Olympic Committee Executive Board for 18 years, was Vice President from 1989 – 1993 and continued as an IOC member and then honorary member. Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, President and Founder of the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Al, had the honor of serving with him on the IOC Commission for Culture and Olympic Elevation committee. Because of this relationship and their shared passions for sport, culture and art, they established a mutual respect. He supported the mission of the Academy and the Sport Art Museum and Archives. For his contribution to sport world-wide, the Academy paid tribute to him with an Honorary Doctorate. For his advocacy of sport values, sport diplomacy and his unflagging energy for the Olympic Movement, the Academy honors him in their Academy Awards of Sport with the Dr. Zhenliang He Culture Award; Sport Artist of the Year, which is given annually to an artist who “captures the spirit and life of sport.” Some of the artists who have received this award include Edward Eyth, Charles Billich, Gail Folwell and Mariam Cabello.

Dr. Zhenliang He was a longstanding ally of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and great supporter of current IOC President Thomas Bach. “He was a true advocate of the social values of sport and of our Movement and I would like to pay tribute to the passion and energy he deployed over the years to fulfill his mission as an IOC member in China. He also helped our Movement better understand his country, its people and outstanding culture,” said Bach.

“He was a fervent leader who passionately contributed to sport and the culture of sport as we know it today. I was privileged to have known and worked with him. The world has lost one of its greatest advocates and he will be greatly missed,” Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich.

The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy visit www.ussa.edu.