Primo Nebiolo () © Copyright
Iaaf News Monaco

World of sport loses Primo Nebiolo

World Athletics Family mourns its President

Dr Primo Nebiolo, IAAF President since 1981, died during the early hours of Sunday, 7 November, in Rome, at the age of 76, following a heart attack.

His wife Giovanna was at his side as he passed away.

The disappearance of Nebiolo has left a void in the world athletics family, to which he had dedicated his whole life. His creative and impassioned work, coupled to his capacities of intuition and unrelenting commitment were behind the unprecedented growth of the International Federation. All of these merits were recognised during the recent IAAF Congress in Seville, where the representatives of the IAAF’s 210 Member Federations re-acclaimed Nebiolo President for the sixth consecutive term.

Nebiolo started his career as a sports administrator half a century ago in Turin, where he was born on 14 July 1923 and studied for his degree in law and political science. In the difficult immediate post-war years, he made his own contribution to the social renaissance of the city through the creation of the university sports club, the CUS Torino. Sentimental ties kept him at its head throughout his life.

Athletics and university sports were his two great passions. Nebiolo had been a practising athlete himself in his day and liked to recall his youthful competitions in the long jump. That experience, matured during his time in high school and university, was the basis of his passion for sport and his desire to serve it. After the tragic years of the War and his time with the anti-fascist resistance, he became convinced that something had to be done to bring the world’s youth together, regardless of which political regime they lived under. So it was that he played a major role in the creation of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), of which he became president in 1961, successfully bringing together university students from both eastern and western blocs.

In athletics too, Nebiolo worked to a single end, to ensure the growth of the movement by offering youngsters, whatever their social or ethnic origin, the possibility to develop. This is the deep inspiration that would give birth to all the initiatives that have made the IAAF one of the most advanced international sports federations.

The importance of this work was universally recognised, and was especially appreciated by the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, who in 1992 named Nebiolo member of the International Olympic Committee "for particular merit".