An Obituary: Olafur Rafnsson

20 June 2013

FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson with the EuroBasket 2011 trophy
Olafur Rafnsson dedicated his life to basketball, as a player, coach, Board Member and President of FIBA Europe

The world of basketball was shocked on Wednesday at the news of the untimely death of FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson in Geneva, Switzerland.

"The world basketball community has lost one of its great servants today," said FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak, who was also in Geneva at the time.

"He was a great personal friend of mine and he will be sorely missed by everyone who was lucky enough to cross paths with him."

FIBA Secretary General and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Patrick Baumann mirrored the sentiments shared by Novak, talking of the total shock and deep sadness felt throughout the basketball community upon hearing of President Rafnsson's death.

"It is with great sadness that we heard of Olaf's passing. On behalf of FIBA and of the basketball community as a whole, we want to offer our condolences to his family and loved ones," he said.

"He did a lot of good for sports - in particular for basketball - over the course of his life."

He had success as a basketball player in his native Iceland and made a smooth transition into sports administration, where he served as President of the country's national Olympic association.

President Rafnsson, a former national-level player and coach himself in his native Iceland, rose to the position of FIBA Europe President in 2010 with his simple, precise message of his vision for basketball in Europe.

President Rafnsson's message was clear: increase the number of countries in Europe where basketball is viewed as the number one sport; increase the number of active participants involved in the game; generate revenue from European club competitions; and create unity between national federations and the governing body.

"We must think long-term with our strategies," was a mantra that President Rafnsson oft repeated and subscribed to heavily.

Growing up in Iceland, basketball was one of President Rafnsson's main passions. It was a passion that remained with him throughout life as he went on to win the Icelandic national championship in 1988 as part of the Haukar team.

Away from basketball he was also President of the National Olympic Association of Iceland and a full-time lawyer, having graduated from the University of Iceland in 1990.

President Rafnsson is survived by his wife Gerdur and his three children.

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