Country: Hungary (Yugoslavia)
Born: June 9, 1918, in Varazdin, Hungary (Yugoslavia)
Died: January, 2004
With the exception of the 1956 Olympics, Artur Takac served in key positions
for every Olympiad from 1948 through 1984—as a national leader,
delegation secretary, or technical program advisor to the Organizing Committee
of the Games.
A prisoner of war (POW) in Italy during World War II, Takac was liberated
in 1943 after the fall of Mussolini. But because the German army occupied
Yugoslavia, his return home was stalled in Switzerland, where he
was assigned to one of the many Swiss prisoner of war internment camps.
Takac was one of 10 men in his camp selected by the Red Cross to join other
POWs in a physical training rehabilitation program at ausanne’s
Olympic Institute. His talents and enthusiasm were noticed by Institute
director Dr. Francis Messerli, who made the Yugoslav his assistant.
Messerli, along with Takac and several other POWs, organized the 1944
Mini-Olympic Games for escaped Yugoslav, American, English, Greek, Italian,
and French prisoners detained in Switzerland. Soon after, although he
could have remained safely in neutral Lausanne for the balance of the war,
Takac secreted himself into France to join the army of liberation.
Returning to his homeland in postwar 1945, Takac became secretary
general of the Yugoslavian Athletics Federation and founded the Partisans
Sports Club in Belgrade, which has since become one of Europe’s biggest
sports associations. Three summers later, he was head of the Yugoslav athletics
(track and field) team for the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
1964 Olympics, Takac was appointed by IOC president
Avery Brundage to assist technical development of the competition program
for the 1968 Games in Mexico City. He next was named technical director
of the 1972 Olympics, then to a similar position for the 1976 Games
in Montreal. It was during these assignments that he set out to update
some of the rules of the Olympic charter and policies of the original IOC,
specifically in matters affecting the awarding of medals, the balance between
sports and events, and the participation of women. In women’s competitions
alone, Takac’s input resulted in the addition of basketball,
rowing, handball, the marathon, cycling road races, shooting, and a broad
increase in events in other sports. He also was an early and active advocate
favoring drug and gender testing for athletes.
In 1978, when the 1984 Winter Olympics was assigned to the city of
Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, Takac, who had also taken on the position of vice
president of the 8th Mediterranean Games Organizing Committee, was
named director of operations. Included in his portfolio was the organization
of sports, electronic technology, medical services, and the opening
and closing ceremonies.
After the success of Sarajevo, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch
awarded Artur Takac the Olympic Order and appointed him his personal advisor
for matters of organization of the Olympic Games. Takac’s memoirs,
Sixty Olympic Years, was published in 1998.