Steve Parry, Reuters sports editor for nearly two decades, died on Thursday at the age of 64.
Parry, who was sports editor from 1982 to 2000 and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) press commission during that time, had suffered from a respiratory illness.
“Steve was one of the Olympic greats,” a spokesman for the London 2012 organisers said. “It is hard to imagine an Olympic Games without him.”
Parry died in hospital in Hemel Hempstead, near his home north of London, on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, having attended the previous 10 Summer Games.
Parry joined Reuters Sports Desk in London in 1966 and covered his first Olympics in Mexico City in 1968.
An incisive and knowledgeable reporter, calm under pressure, Parry took on the athletics beat at the 1972 Munich Games and made the No1 Olympic sport his own for a decade.
He covered track and field at the next two Games, never wasting a word in fluent and speedy copy, and remained close to the sport after he moved up in Reuters.
Appointed sports news editor in 1977, Parry was promoted to the job of sports editor at Reuters in 1982 and ran the operation with imagination, assurance and great expertise.
He expanded its role, appointing the first Reuters sports correspondents based abroad, one in Paris and one in Bonn, in 1984.
Firm and clear-sighted in his direction of the sports operation, he was benignly tolerant of his Reuters “band on the run” at Olympics around the world.
Outside work, he was an accomplished amateur actor and made the occasional fleeting television appearance after gaining his card as a member of the actors’ union Equity.
After retiring from Reuters following the 2000 Sydney Games, Parry became a consultant for the IOC. He later became a media adviser for London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics and then a press operations consultant for the London Games organisers.
Parry was advising both the IOC and London until his untimely death. He was recently advised by his doctor that his health was not up to the rigours of one more Olympic adventure in Beijing.
Reuters current sports editor Paul Radford, Parry’s former deputy and a close personal friend, said: “We at Reuters are devastated by the news. Steve was one of the finest journalists Reuters ever had and one of the greatest men I ever knew.
“He was one of the most revered and respected personalities in the world of sports journalism and a monumental figure in the Olympic movement.”
The SJA’s Morley Myers, a career-long colleague of Parry’s, working for international agencies and on the Olympic beat, said: “This sad news is a great loss to British Sports Journalism, as well as a huge personal loss for me.
“We worked very closely together in the late 60s and, after I left Reuters, we continued our friendship as we met at major sports events worldwide. In recent years Steve had worked very closely with the IOC and he promoted the cause of all sports journalists in helping to improve their working conditions at Olympic Games.”
In an official statement from the London 2012 organisers, LOCOG, a spokesman said: “Steve was involved with London 2012 from the early stages of the bid and played a major role in helping us bring the Games to London.
“His candid advice, expert knowledge and exceptional humour will be sorely missed by everyone connected to London 2012, and the wider Olympic family. We send our deepest sympathy to his family at this very sad time â€œ
Parry is survived by his wife, Di, and their daughter, and two sons from an earlier marriage.