European athletics governing body’s head, Svein Arne Hansen, died on Saturday aged 74 after failing to recover from a stroke he had suffered in March, the sports body said.
Hansen, a former head of Norway’s athletics federation, had led European Athletics since 2015 after becoming its fifth president.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Svein Arne today,” European Athletics interim president Dobromir Karamarinov said in a statement.
“He was a great leader, a visionary for our sport and a charismatic personality within the athletics family. We have lost a great man.”
Hansen, a former long-time organiser of the successful track and field Bislett Games in Norway, also played a key role in establishing the European sports championships.
The championships are a continental multi-sports event where federations are also stakeholders.
“Today I have lost one of my closest friends,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, a former Olympic track and field champion.
“We have known each other for 43 years. Sven gave me my first big international break in athletics at the Bislett Games in Oslo and provided me with the platform for two of my three world records in 41 days back in 1979.
“He was in the vanguard of globalising our sport. Our deepest sympathies go to his family and the European Athletics family who today lost their hugely popular and effective president.”
Hansen had also been a member of several top athletics commissions.
These include being a member of the Golden League working group from 1997 to 2009, and president of the Norwegian athletics federation from 2003 to 2015.