The sporting world on Friday paid glowing tributes to Shinzo Abe, who was instrumental in Japan winning the bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, with the International Olympics Committee hailing him as “a man of vision” and “a dear friend of the Olympic Movement.” (More Sports News)
Abe, 67, one of his nation's most powerful and influential figures, died after being shot during an election campaign speech in western Japan.
“Japan has lost a great statesman, and the IOC has lost a valiant supporter and a dear friend of the Olympic Movement. On behalf of the International Olympic Committee, I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to his family, his friends and the Japanese people,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement on Friday.
"Abe Shinzo was a man with a vision, full of determination and boundless energy to make his vision come true. What I appreciated most about him was that he was a man of his word," Bach said.
Bach recalled that without Abe's support, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would have been cancelled altogether due to the raging pandemic.
“The entire Olympic Movement and I owe him all our respect and gratitude. This is why we will forever hold Abe Shinzo in great honour,” he added.
Abe was instrumental in Japan winning the bid to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Japan won its hosting bid at the September 2013 International Olympic Committee Session, when Abe was the Prime Minister.
In November 2020, he was awarded the Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee President Bach, the highest honour in the Olympic movement.
Abe became the first Japanese Prime Minister to be bestowed with this prestigious honour.
Abe will forever be etched in the minds of sports fans for making a surprise appearance dressed as popular video-game character Super Mario during the handing over ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said Abe "will forever be grateful to the people of Japan for delivering the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the most demanding of circumstances."
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said Abe's assassination was "incredibly tragic news".
"He was a huge supporter of an historic Rugby World Cup in Japan. My heart goes out to his family, friends and the Japanese people at this sad time,” he added.