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Spain King Juan Carlos I and the Olympics

King Juan Carlos

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - OCTOBER 2: King Juan Carlos of Spain speaks during the Madrid 2016 bid presentation during the 121st International Olympic Committee session at the Bella Center on October 2, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 121st session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on October 2 on whether Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Madrid will host the 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)

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King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who said Monday he was abdicating in favor of son Prince Felipe, has quite a history with the Olympics.

As a prince, he placed 15th in sailing’s Dragon class event at the 1972 Munich Olympics, according to, which lists his full name as Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias.

He took over as king in 1975, and in that role, officially opened the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, regarded by many as one of the greatest Games ever. He is the only Olympian to officially open a Summer Olympics, as noted by

But it doesn’t end there.

His wife, Queen Sofia, represented Greece at the 1960 Rome Olympics, also in sailing’s Dragon class. Greece won gold, but she did not compete as an unused reserve.

His son and soon-to-be king, Prince Felipe, was a 1992 Spanish sailing Olympian, taking sixth in the Soling class.

OlympStats also highlights the Olympic careers of King Juan Carlos’ daughter, son-in-law, brother-in-law, sister and the son of his great grandfather who won cycling silver at the 1900 Paris Games.

The king was also part of the Madrid bid delegation that traveled to Copenhagen in 2009, when it came in second to Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Olympic host city voting.

King Juan Carlos I was also a fixture at Spanish sporting triumphs in soccer and tennis. He handed Miguel Angel Nadal the 2003 Copa del Rey soccer trophy and, two years later, was at Roland Garros to watch and congratulate Nadal’s nephew, Rafael, on the first of his eight French Open titles. He and the younger Nadal met many more times over the next nine years.

“He was a wonderful person, a great representative of our country everywhere in the world, and Spain should thank him for everything he did during his reign,” Rafael Nadal said after winning his French Open round of 16 match Monday. “I just want to thank him for everything he did for my country.”

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