Alex Gilady, the most prominent Israeli administrator in world sports, died on Wednesday in London aged 79 of cancer.
A member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tehran-born Gilady began his career as a sports reporter in 1964 and joined Israeli television when broadcasts began in 1968.
In 1977, he was appointed to head special events and oversaw coverage of then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel, Israeli TV’s first live broadcasts from Egypt and production of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Veteran sports fans remember Gilady for his commentary of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first European Cup victory in 1977, at the time a feel-good moment in a country with a dearth of sporting achievements.
Gilady then became a senior executive with NBC and was instrumental in overseeing the US network’s broadcasts of the Olympic Games.
He became an IOC member in 1994 and was a hugely influential member of the exclusive body as its top expert on television broadcasts.
In 2017, Gilady was accused by two Israeli female journalists of sexual harassment and he recused himself temporarily from the committee. He later withdrew a defamation lawsuit against them.
“We are losing a pioneer of the modern Olympic movement” IOC president Thomas Bach said of Gilady’s passing. “He has always stood up for the Olympic values, often when sometimes the situation was not easy for him.”