The British National Archives has made Olympic and Paralympic documents and images available online for the 19th 20th and 21st centuries. This is a first. The new site called The Olympic Record has a timeline, which enables researchers to brows material from summer Olympics from the Athens games in 1896 to the Beijing games in 2008.

The files clearly illustrate the impact that the Olympic movement has had on history during the 116 years since the modern Games were revived. The records show the growth of the Games through the 20th century, including the boycotts and the amazing survival through two world wars and political turmoil.

Originally, the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. They reached their peak in the 5th and 6th centuries BC and gradually declined as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece. There is no agreement on when the Games officially ended, but most people believe that the end came in 393 AD when the emperor Theodosius I declared that all pagan cults and practices be eliminated.

The modern Olympics Games along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were  founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894. Since then the IOC has been the governing body of the Olympic Movement.

Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives, said: ‘The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games represent a key moment in our nation’s history, when London becomes the first city in the world to host the Games on three occasions. In addition to making historic material from our collection freely available online, The National Archives is helping other organisations to preserve and make accessible their Olympic records as a permanent legacy of this extraordinary event.

Click on The Olympic Record to access the new site. It makes a great visual impact.

Click on podcast by Sarah Hutton records specialist at The National Archives to hear more on the Olympic records.

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