IOC honorary member Günther Heinze died aged 97 ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach paid tribute to honorary member Günther Heinze after he died aged 97.

Heinze first ventured into sports administration in 1954 as deputy chairman of the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). 

He then served in a number of other organisations, including as a referee for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) from 1952 to 1956.

As well as holding roles within basketball in the GDR, Heinze also joined the FIBA Financial Commission from 1956 to 1960 and was a vice-president of the FIBA Commission for International Organisation from 1964 to 1972.

Heinze was vice-president of the National Olympic Committee of the GDR between 1955 and 1972 as well as from 1982 to 1989, and secretary general from 1973 to 1982.

His second stint as vice-president followed his 1981 entry into the IOC, where he served on several Commissions as an IOC member.

This included Olympic Solidarity from 1973 to 1980, Study and Evaluation for the Preparation of the Olympic Games from 1985 to 1988, and Olympic Programme from 1989 to 1991.

Heinze became an IOC honorary member in 1992.

IOC President Thomas Bach has paid tribute to Günther Heinze ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach has paid tribute to Günther Heinze ©Getty Images

"Günther Heinze was a very engaged IOC Member for many years, whom I got to know during my time in the IOC Athletes’ Commission," Bach said in a statement.

"Up to his death he followed developments in the Olympic Movement in a very interested and positive way. 

"It was widely appreciated how he paved the way for the reorganisation of sport in Germany after the reunification in 1990 by offering his resignation as an IOC Member."

Other sports administration engagements included roles as the vice-president of the Sports and Gymnastics Union of the GDR for international relations from 1957 to 1989 and member of the Presidium of the Volleyball Association of the GDR from 1970 to 1984.

Heinze’s international activities were not restricted to sports.

He was also a member of the Presidium of the International Friendship League of the GDR and the Presidium of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Commission of the GDR until 1990.

The Olympic flag is to be flown at half mast at Olympic House in Lausanne as a mark of respect.