About the project

Sporting Cities has been created by London Metropolitan Archives to stand as a lasting cultural legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The main aim of the site is to provide information on the whereabouts of original archival material relating to each Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games of the modern era. In most cases a single archive which records all aspects of the Olympic Games hosted by a particular city does not exist. Information can be spread across several institutions – documents relating to the bid to host the games are usually held in the National Archive while records on the preparations for the Games themselves, including improvement of infrastructure, are held in the city’s own metropolitan or regional archive. There may also be other repositories involved – specialist sports museums, photographic archives, even company archives of construction companies responsible for Olympic buildings. Sporting Cities aims to build as complete a picture as possible of the archival material available for each Games.

The project is funded by the City of London Corporation and validated by the Programme Commission of the International Council on Archives (ICA).  The ICA sections for Sporting Archives (ICA-SPO) and for Local, Municipal and Territorial Archives (ICA-SLMT) have been active partners in the project.

The Sporting Cities website contains a suite of pages for every Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games since 1896. Each suite contains up to three pages:

  • Directory of archives relating to the games, recording where archive material is held and how it can be accessed.
  • Legacy information concentrating on the role each host city played in the development of the games and conversely, how the games have been an instrument for social change and development of the built environment in the host city.
  • Gallery of selected digitised images taken from the holdings of participating archive repositories. As many archives have not yet digitised their Olympic sources not every suite contains a Gallery page.

To use the site, hover over the timeline on the left of the screen and click on the city name for the Olympic Games you are interested in.

General websites for Olympic research

The websites and archives detailed in the Directory pages do not include those of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or International Paralympic Committee (IPC).  Archives relating to the involvement of the IOC and IPC with each games may be available through the committees themselves. The IOC holds historical archives at its Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne. See its Archive Web Pages for information and to view pdf catalogues of the archives. A parallel archive for the International Paralympic Committee is held at the IPC’s headquarters in Bonn, for which see the IPC’s Archive Web Page

The Centre d’Estudis Olimpics, based at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, holds a collection of documents relating to the Olympic Games and sport in general. The centre deals with enquiries from local and international users and offers a special service for international researchers who want to visit the CEO-UAB.

The archives of the Hellenic Olympic Committee in Athens also contain material relating to the Olympic movement from 1894. See the Directory page for Athens 1896 for contact details for the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the associated International Olympic Academy.