Former FIG President Bruno Grandi has died at the age of 85.
Grandi, who led the International Gymnastics Federation for 19 years, from 1997 to 2016, passed away in Italy following illness.
The Italian was succeeded by Japan’s Morinari Watanabe, who took over as FIG President in November 2016.
Grandi was named FIG Honorary President following the conclusion of his tenure as President.
“Today, we are mourning the loss of a warm-hearted man who showed us the way with all the passion he had for the sport,” Watanabe said.
“With unstoppable energy, he championed justice in sport and always placed the safety of athletes first.
“His values and his spirit will continue to inspire us for years to come.”
A warm man with a strong sense of justice, Grandi said his greatest reward as President was to have elevated Gymnastics to the top tier of sports on the Olympic programme.
He spearheaded the scrapping of the perfect 10 scoring system following controversies at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Among the other reforms initiated by Grandi was establishing a minimum age limit – 16 for women and 18 for men – to be able to participate in international competitions and improving the Olympic qualification system.
A former athlete and coach, Grandi had a successful career as a sports administrator after retiring from the sport.
He was President of the Italian Gymnastics Federation from 1977 to 2000 and also served as a vice-president of the Italian National Olympic Committee from 1987 to 2005.
Grandi was also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 2000 and 2004.
“With the passing of Bruno Grandi the Olympic Movement has lost a great athlete,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“In everything he did one could feel and experience his great passion for Gymnastics and for the gymnasts.
“One of his top priorities was always to ensure fair refereeing.
“He fought for this with all his energy and passion, something that his many friends and myself will remember him for.”
Bruno Grandi also fought to improve the Olympic qualification system in order to open the way for countries that do not have the same pool of high-level athletes as the traditional powerhouses of gymnastics.
For him, the most valuable project was putting in place the “Academies” programme of courses to train coaches on every continent.
In the past 20 years, the sport has expanded to new regions of the world. By the end of his presidency, the number of FIG member federations had risen from around 120 to nearly 150.
His last Olympic Games, Rio in 2016, reflected this diversity, with 16 different nations represented on the podiums and 18 Olympic titles shared between 11 countries.
Bruno Grandi made his official farewell to the world of gymnastics at the FIG Congress in Tokyo in October 2016.