New Dutch King awarded IOC’s highest honor

September 8, 2013 GMT
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Dutch King Willem-Alexander laughs as he sits next to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the UN Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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Dutch King Willem-Alexander laughs as he sits next to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the UN Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The IOC has awarded its highest honor to Dutch king Willem-Alexander after he relinquished his membership to focus on matters at home.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge presented the Olympic gold order to Willem-Alexander during a session in Buenos Aires on Sunday.

Willem-Alexander stepped down after acceding to the Dutch throne in April. He will likely be replaced by KLM executive Camiel Eurlings in an election on Tuesday.

Willem-Alexander, who became an IOC member in 1998, said “in no way this means I’m distancing myself from the values” of the IOC and the Olympic Movement.

The king will remain an honorary IOC member.

The 46-year-old Willem-Alexander is the youngest monarch in Europe and the first Dutch king in 123 years.