• Switzerland's news in English

IOC preserves a century of Olympics history

AFP · 16 Jul 2015, 09:15

Published: 16 Jul 2015 09:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sitting in a basement at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, some 33,000 hours of video, 500,000 pictures and 2,000 documents among other archives risked decay and being lost forever.

But after a seven-year and 30 million euro ($33 million USD) conservation project involving experts from across the globe, the IOC has rescued much of its precious audiovisual archive.

"There was an urgency to save this legacy," said Philippe Laurens, an official with the IOC's Patrimonial Assets Management (PAM) programme, which spearheaded the project.

History under threat

When the preservation effort was launched in 2007 under former IOC president Jacques Rogge, the organization discovered that a large portion of its archives faced destruction.

Faded photographs were deteriorating and some films were being destroyed by the so-called "vinegar effect", where chemicals in the films combined with moisture to cause corrosion.

While some of the video material remained in good condition, the hardware needed to play it had become obsolete, meaning the video needed to be reformatted to make it compatible with modern devices.

A team of archivists first tried to identify all the available material, a job estimated to have taken 100,000 hours of work.

But, they uncovered images that had previously been unpublished.

The group found a long tracking shot of the Eiffel Tower taken during the 1900 games in Paris, and spectacularly, footage of the victory lap Greek runner Spyridon Louis took after winning the marathon in 1896 in Athens.

The IOC worked with experts from Switzerland, France, Canada, the United States and Thailand to document and repair the archives.

"Everyday, between 40 and 125 photos and between 15 and 20 hours of recordings were treated," Laurens said.

Some of the material required highly specific attention, like 400 hours of footage on 16 mm and 35 mm film that had to be recopied onto new film to be preserved for another century.

In late 2012, the basement of the IOC headquarters that housed the archives flooded following heavy storms, raising fears that the project had suffered an unexpected setback.

But heavy storage safes protected the material from water damage and the restoration work continued.

A century of sport

The salvaged material includes audio recording of Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin and scenes that are unlikely to be repeated at the Olympics again.

In one such image, two wrestlers are shown grappling at the 1912 games in Stockholm, with a referee in the background wearing a sun hat and a trench coat.

Story continues below…

The IOC has decided to make the material accessible to researchers and journalists who cover the games.

"It is incumbent upon us to carry on the cultural heritage of more than a century of Olympic history left to us by our ancestors," said IOC Director-General Christophe De Kepper.

"The legacy of the IOC can now withstand the test of time."

The IOC will for its conservation efforts receive an award at the prestigious International Broadcasting Convention awards in September.

But officials in Lausanne know that the work of preserving the games history will continue indefinitely.

The summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are expected to generate another 3,500 hours of video and additional 40,000 pictures.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available