By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 27 - Dutch judo legend and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Anton Geesink has died tonight in hospital in his home town of Utrecht.

He was aged 76.

He had been ill for a number of months and been in intensive care for three weeks.

Geesink became Olympic judo champion at Tokyo in 1964, when the sport was making its debut in the Games in its home country.

Although Japan dominated three of the four weight divisions, the light, middle and heavy, Geesink won the final of the open weight division, defeating Akio Kaminaga before 15,000 people at Nippon Budokan Hall.

It stunned Japan but earned Geesink legendary status in Japan, where he remained a hero.

Geesink also won three world titles, in 1961, 1964 and 1965.

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, a fellow member of the IOC, led the tributes to Geesink.

"Anton Geesink was a never-to-be-forgotten sporting great," he said.

"He made a very major contribution to both the Dutch and the international sporting movement, first as an active sportsman and then as an administrator.”

Geesink became a member of the IOC in 1987.

He was among the IOC members suspected of accepting bribes during the scandal surrounding the election of Salt Lake City as the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Organisers of the successful bid claimed they had paid Geesink $5,000 (£3,220) to buy a vehicle for an Olympic foundation run by him.

Geesink said the money was not paid to him but to an independent foundation that funds projects aimed at promoting Olympic ideals around the world.

The IOC considered the situation not serious enough for expulsion, and issued a warning to Geesink.

The scandal did not affect Geesink's status with his fellow judoka.

Mark Huizinga, the 2000 Olympic -90kg champion, the last Dutchman to win a gold medal in the sport, said: "I'm shocked.

"He was still the man in the Dutch judo.

"Although there are more then champions came from the Netherlands, he remained the world's best-known Dutch judoka." 

Geesink's involvement in the Salt Lake City scandal was such a shock because he was noted for his insistence on following the rules, something which often brought him into conflct with other sports administrators in the Netherlands, something acknowledged by Hein Verbruggen, the former President of cycling's world governing body, the UCI, and IOC member.

"Anton was not easy in life," said Vebruggen.

"He was certainly not easy for themselves.

"I had a very good relationship with him.

"His character was his character.

"That he has also made a great champion."

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