Special issue 37, July 2008 - ISSN 1563-1183
IASI Newsletter

The Olympic Games have turned into a phenomenon excelling the sporting event. During 15 days, athletes from all over the world meet together in a city to compete in different sporting events. The whole world has their eyes on the performance of these athletes through the mass media. But behind the sporting practice, there are economic, cultural and political aspects; a philosophy of life the combines sport, culture and education; a sporting movement involving federations, clubs, referees, athletes, as well as a multidimensional impact of the Games in the host city and country.

Such a complex and multidimensional phenomenon has many implications for information and knowledge management. In this IASI newsletter, we would like to cover how information managers can contribute to the organisation of such a sporting event and to preserve and provide access to the knowledge resulting from organising the Olympic Games or the Olympic phenomenon in general.

This special IASI newsletter includes the special contributions of two IASI institutional members specialised in the Olympic Games: IOC Olympic Studies Centre and the Olympic Studies Centre at the UAB. In addition, we have a special contribution of Sue Halbwirth providing an insight to information and knowledge management for organising the Games.

Berta Cerezuela
IASI Publication Officer

Olympic knowledge: dissemination experiences

, Chris Kennett and
Research team of the study Networking in Olympic Studies, undertaken in 2004 by the Olympic Studies Centre at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CEO-UAB) and commissioned by the IOC Information Management Department.

The growing significance of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement in society has resulted in increased interest from a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals in analysing these phenomena and in disseminating Olympic knowledge.

Olympic Studies Centres, research groups and scholars develop research lines on the Olympics at universities resulting in academic publications, contributions to conferences and other type of academic dissemination tools. The International and national Olympic academies promote the study of the Olympics through educational programmes and conferences. Legacy institutions – such as archives and foundations – preserve the memory and hold documentation produced by the Organising Committees. Sporting libraries have developed collections dealing with the Olympics and scientific association have included the Olympics as an area of activity.

The Olympics, as a global and multidisciplinary area of study and activity, requires tools facilitating access to reliable information and documentation, including bibliographical databases, digital collections, other full-text products or directories and Internet Portals. Libraries and information services play a key role in the development of information and documentation products on the Olympics.

Although very interesting and successful experiences have already been developed in this area -as identified in the afore mentioned study and shown in the examples provided below- cooperation should be strengthen among producers and other information services for the development of these products and the promotion of use.

LA84 Foundation digital collection
LA84 Foundation digital collection
The LA84 Foundation aims to serve youth through sport and to increase knowledge of sport and its impact on people’s lives. It has undertaken a digitalisation project of its library collection, containing more than 300,000 pages, stored in over 45,000 PDF files.

The Digital collection includes academic journals, scholarly books, popular sports magazines and Olympic publications. It is worth highlighting the documents that are closely related to the organisation of the Olympic Games (i.e. Official reports), the activity of the Olympic Movement and the IOC (i.e. Olympic Review). conference proceedings and other publications edited by Olympic Studies centres at universities and the collection of serials including the main serials specialised in the Olympics (i.e. Olympika, Journal of Olympic History). All of the publications are accessible full-text - free of charge - through a search page.

Portal of Olympic Studies
Portal of Olympic Studies

The Olympic Studies Centre at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, as a university research centre specialised in the Olympics, has developed a Portal of Olympic Studies on the Internet. The aim of the Portal is to facilitate access to quality resources focusing on the Olympic phenomena that available on the net, as well as information and reference services, to the international university community (lectures, students and librarians).

The Portal, available in English, Spanish and Catalan, includes a resource guide compiling those academic resources available on the Internet on diverse aspects related to the Olympic Games, grouped by thematic category. Information services are also provided such as an academic events agenda and a periodical newsletter.

Olympic results and medals database
Olympic results and medals database
Online database developed by the International Olympic Committee compiling information on the results for all medallists since 1896. It has been compiled by using data from official publications.

The database allows search by result classification criteria such as gender, medal and type of sport (individual or team), as well as athlete’s name, sport event, country and edition of the Games.

Information and knowledge management and Olympic Games organisation: coordination, connection and contribution

Director KnowledgeScape Pty Ldt (Australia) and Adjunt Professor of Information and Knowledge Management at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney.


The planning and delivery of a major sporting event, such as an Olympic and Paralympic Games demands excellence in project management, logistics, governance, communications, spectator experience and ‘the field of play’. This by necessity involves complex flows of information and an extensive need to effectively share and use knowledge.
Games organisers (such as Organising Committees for the Olympic Games, government agencies, sponsors and the Olympic Movement) and each individual worker are actively involved in creating, storing, accessing and using information. The challenge is to ensure that this activity is coordinated to facilitate informed decision making and minimise risk. This involves bringing together information technology, content, processes and a culture that supports each worker to be as effective as possible.

Managing information
Within the lifecycle of Games organisation the focus of information management changes according to the strategic and operational information needs.
Some examples of information management activities within a Games organiser are:

Establishing the foundations - Games minus 7 to minus 4 years
The focus is on implementing a flexible and robust information infrastructure, policies and services to enable planning and decision making. There is a need to gather information from external sources and ensuring the effective organisation of information. This would typically include enterprise content management (including intra/extranets, records, document, multimedia assets and geospatial information), research services and information management tools (such as information audits, mapping and architecture; terminology management (Games Codes); classification / metadata schedules and information security models).

Operational Readiness – Games minus 4 years to Games Time
During this phase the emphasis is on ensuring the flow of appropriate and consistent information within the organisation and the growing number of stakeholders. Documents and content need to be created, managed, and made accessible to work groups – there is a need for consistency, version control and accuracy of content. Management of records and capturing ‘lessons learned is important. The demand for public information grows exponentially.

Games Time
Information management supports Games time information services such as developing information content for Spectator Services functions, incident tracking, information services for athletes and research services for the media.

Delivering a legacy - Post Games
Archives management and post Games legacy, such as information, data and museum collections, permanent web presence, preparation of the Official Report and transfer of knowledge assets.

Sharing knowledge
Knowledge management works with information management to facilitate an organisational culture that respects and rewards the sharing and use of knowledge across the organisation and its stakeholders. It focuses on cultivating communities and conversations as well as value adding to information processes to support the sharing of ideas and innovation.

Some examples of knowledge management activities are:
- Ensuring that all stakeholders are trained in the use of, and contribute to information systems and processes.
- Identifying and supporting a network of ‘information champions’ – staff to support knowledge flows across Games organisers.
- Creating linkages, via tools such as collaborative workspaces, social networking, corporate directory and expertise locators.
- Developing knowledge harvesting and synthesis processes to ‘capture’ lessons learned and facilitate organisational learning within and across organisers.
- Supporting innovation via business intelligence, modelling and decision support applications.

Building capability
Information and knowledge management provides a channel for the ongoing building of organisational capability, not just within the specific Games organisers, but importantly across the Olympic Movement. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) manages an integrated program of Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM) to collect knowledge and experience from previous organisers, and make it available to future organisers.

Some specific aspects of the OGKM program to support information management in Games organisers are specialist workshops, an information service via an extranet of knowledge ‘captured’ from past Games and a Technical Manual on Information Management.

Games organisers work in partnership with the IOC OGKM program to transfer information and knowledge. Within each Games organiser there is a need for processes to ensure the wide dissemination of information from previous Games as well as the ongoing contribution of ‘new’ knowledge to the OGKM knowledge base.

From case studies
The Sydney 2000 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) provides a useful case study in the delivery of information and knowledge management. An Information Management department was established during the Candidature phase. This department provided SOCOG with records and archives management, multimedia library, research services, document collaboration system, public information coordination, call centre management and support for the transfer of knowledge and Official Report. The Sydney 2000 permanent web site www.gamesinfo.com.au is an example of a legacy product.

Each Games organiser works within a specific information environment effected by regulations and legislation, national culture, strategic goals, resourcing levels and availability of technology. There is therefore no ‘right way’ to manage information and knowledge. Each Games will bring a unique approach.

There are, however some common themes:
- Establishment of a central coordinating information and knowledge management unit/department operational through the Games lifecycle from Candidature to Dissolution.
- While technologies enable the management and distribution of information it is the effective coordination and management of, not just the information technology, but also of people, culture, processes and content, that allows the organisation to fully leverage its information and knowledge assets.
- The information and knowledge environment of the Organiser is characterised by exponential growth, constant change and diversity in a much shorter time frame than a normal business. Therefore, it is essential that information and knowledge management decisions and implementations reflect the short, intensive nature and legacy opportunities of the Games.

The Future
The challenge for Games Organisers is to ensure that information and knowledge is coordinated, connected and contributed to deliver ‘great’ Games and a lasting ‘knowledge’ legacy for the country/ city and the Olympic Movement


Halbwirth, S and Toohey, K ‘Sport management and knowledge management: a useful partnership’, The Events Management Research Conference: Impact of Events, Australian Centre for Event Management, Sydney, July 13-14 2005.

Halbwirth, S. and Toohey, K. ‘The Olympic Games and knowledge management’, European Sport Management Quarterly, 1(2), 2001, pp. :91-111.

Halbwirth, S. ‘Beyond 2000 Towards Knowledge: Information Management and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games’, Sports Information in the Third Millennium: 11th IASI World Conference, Olympic Museum and Studies Centre, Lausanne: Switzerland, 25-27 April 2001.

Toohey, K. and Halbwirth. S. ‘Sydney Olympic Games Case Study’ in Allen, J et al, Festival and Special Event Management 3rd ed. Milton, Qld.: John Wiley and Sons, 2004

IOC Olympic Studies Centre

by IOC Information Management Department

"Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles." (Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principles, paragraph 1)

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Games, is also known for his advocacy of educational reform. As he saw it, sport should form part of every young person's education, in the same way as science, literature and art. The Olympic Movement upholds Coubertin's principles. Today, education through Olympism is therefore universal, essentially based on the fundamental human values.

The IOC’s Olympic Studies Centre (OSC), situated at the Olympic Museum site in Lausanne, Switzerland, also follows these principles and focuses on its main mission to preserve and disseminate the written and audiovisual legacy of the Olympic Movement and Olympic Games and to coordinate and promote research, teaching and publications about Olympism. Every year over 300 researchers visit the Olympic Studies Centre.

The IOC written and audiovisual collections are managed by the five sections within the Information Management Department, the Information Centre, University Relations, the IOC Library, the Historical Archives and the Images Archives Section.

  • The Information Centre provides specific information on the history of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games. Academics with research requests on the Olympic Movement or interested in visiting the OSC are welcome to visit the webpage for more information and contact us at .

  • The Universities Relations Section of the OSC acts as a link between universities and the IOC to respond to requests from universities (information, support for academic activities, research proposals, etc.). This section is also responsible of the annual Postgraduate Research Grant Programme, which seeks to encourage young researchers to undertake research on the Olympic phenomenon from a human and social sciences angle. Further information about its activities is available at the IOC website: http://www.olympic.org/studies

  • The IOC Library manages a unique collection of publications related to the IOC and the Olympic Movement, the ancient and modern Olympic Games, Olympic sports and all sport sciences. At the same time, it holds the official publications of the Olympic Movement, such as the Olympic Charter and Olympic Review, the candidate city files, and the official Games Reports. Furthermore the Library provides free access to the collections, on-line catalogue and electronic resources, and national and international loan management.

  • The Historical Archives are responsible for safeguarding and giving access to more than 1 linear km patrimonial written documents, bearing witness to the patrimonial history of the IOC since its foundation. Among the main collections are: the files of all IOC Presidents and decision-making bodies, the Olympic Games, and the IOC’s relations with the Olympic Movement. The Historical Archives service offers archives research, selection and submission of appropriate documents and special support for publications or exhibitions.

  • The Images Section has the task to acquire, restore, preserve, document and give access to all audiovisual patrimony related to the Olympic Games and the activities of the Olympic Movement. The collection today contains more than 600’000 photographs, 30’000 hours of film, and 2’000 hours of audio documents from 1896 to 2006.
    The Images Section also provides research service and access within the framework of academic work, publications, exhibitions or documentary films.

Archiving the Olympic Games

Information and Project Manager, Olympic Studies Centre at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CEO-UAB)

Sporting events in general, and the Olympic Games in particular, are characterised by their short duration in time. However, their impact can last for decades and be of vital importance for the organisers and the host community.

Hosting the Olympic Games can leave the host community with new sporting facilities or communications infrastructures, economical benefits or an increase in sport practice. A very valuable know-how is also created among those –both individuals and organisations– having participated actively in the delivering of the Games. Best practices can be identified by other event organisers, in particular the organising committees for future editions of the Games and lastly but less important, the Games become an element of history and an object for academic research.

A great volume of information and documentation is produced on each edition of the Olympic Games. Organising Committees for the Olympic Games are considered as one of the main producers of Olympic documentation, generating enormous amounts of information during the different event phases, together with the other organisations involved in delivering the event. In addition, the Olympic Games become an object for research which results in a wide diversity of documents focusing on that edition of the Olympic Games.

The archive of the Games –understood as the documentation generated directly from staging the event and that resulting from a research process– should then be considered as the main intellectual component of the legacy of the Games for the host community. It is one of the intangible legacy elements which “act as the driving force for the tangible ones to develop a long-term legacy of the Olympic Games” (Moragas, Kennett, Puig 2003:492).

The typology of documents dealing with an edition of the Olympic Games is very diverse and includes administrative documents, technical and impact reports, magazines, memorabilia, audiovisual material, photographs, maps, electronic data systems (results systems or media information systems), journal articles, books, comparative research reports, conference proceeding, etc.

Thematically, documents cover a wide range of topics including: bid, organisation and management model, funding and economic impact, urban planning, infrastructures and facilities, political and institutional framework, mass media participation and coverage, technology used, image and design, cultural and educational programmes, athletes support, sporting results, social participation (volunteers, spectators, etc.).

Guaranteeing the preservation of the archival material of an Olympiad has not been a priority for the Organising Committees or supporting institutions. It was not until the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games that the Organising Committees were obliged to preserve the archive of the Games.

Through a cooperation project with the IOC Archive Section, CEO-UAB elaborated a directory of those institutions holding the official and non official archives on each edition of the Olympic Games. Results show a diversity of initiatives that vary from university libraries, research centres, national and municipal archives, museums or foundations. Although the improvements in the last editions of the Games, there is no archival initiative that allows a coordinated and global access to the documentation generated by the Organising Committee and the documentation resulting from studying that edition of the Olympic Games.

MORAGAS, Miquel de; Nuria Puig and Chris Kennett (eds.) (2003): “Conclusions and recommendations”, Symposium on the Legacy of the Olympic Games: International Symposium 14, 15, 16 November 2002. Lausanne : International Olympic Committee, p. 489-492.

International Association for Sports Information
Developed by CEO-UAB
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