King Constantine of Greece, history’s last Hellenic king, passed away this evening in Athens at the age of 82. As well as being an honorary member of the IOC, he had a special bond with Italy, given that he had taken part and triumphed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He did so in sailing, which was contested in the waters of the Gulf of Naples, in the Dragoon class.
King Constantine was also something of a symbolic figure at the only summer Olympics held in Italy. He became the first athlete to enter the Stadio Olimpico at the opening ceremony of the 1960 Rome Games. Having been appointed the Greek flag-bearer, he was the first to enter the field at the opening parade, as it is customary for the Greek national team to lead the other teams out at the Olympics.
On that day, 25 August 1960, his sister Sofia was alongside him as a fellow competitor in sailing in Naples. The future Queen of Spain (she would later marry King Juan Carlos) was with him until the end at his bedside in Athens. King Constantine was born in Psichiko on 2 June 1940. Constantine had become an IOC member in 1963, when only 23 years old, later becoming an honorary member in 1974.
The final appearance of Constantine of Greece in Italy took place on 10 September 2010, in Rome, in the gardens of the Quirinale, received by the then President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rome 1960, when all living Olympic and Paralympic champions gathered at the Colle together with a large presence of IOC members, including King Constantine and the future president Thomas Bach. Farewell Constantine, Italy will not forget you! (photo CONI)