By Helena Byrne, Curator of Web Archives, The British Library
Originally, Sunday 9th August, 2020 would have been the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and we would have been waiting for the start of the Paralympics. However due to the coronavirus pandemic most events big and small were either cancelled, went online or were postponed till 2021. Even though Tokyo 2020 was postponed until 2021, the symposium Documenting the Olympics & Paralympics, which was supposed to be a full day face-to-face event, went online. The event was a much shorter panel session, held via Zoom on the 19th June, 2020.
This was a collaboration between the British Library, the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC) at De Montfort University, and the British Society of Sports History (BSSH).
The event was organised not only because 2020 was supposed to be an Olympic and Paralympic year, but also because the UK Web Archive team at the British Library were celebrating two significant anniversaries. It is 15 years since the UK Web Archive was founded. It is also 10 years since the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) started Olympic and Paralympic collaborative web archive collections.
Laura Alexandra Brown, Northumbria University - The heritage of the Games: Interpreting urban change in Olympic host cities
Heather Dichter, De Montfort University - Finding Olympic history in non-sport archives
Robert McNicol, Librarian, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum - Researching the Olympics/Paralympics at Wimbledon
Helena Byrne, Curator of Web Archives, British Library - Preserving the Olympics/Paralympics online
A broad mix of physical, digitised and born digital resources were covered in the presentations. You can listen back to an audio recording of this symposium on the Sport in History Podcast. While the full abstracts and some of the PowerPoint slides are available on the British Library Research Repository. The official hashtag for the event on Twitter was, #ResearchingTheGames where you can catch up with the online discussions.
Laura Alexandra Brown from Northumbria University, discussed her experience of using archives in her research that primarily relates to architectural design and reuse from the perspective of the Olympic Games.
Heather Dichter from De Montfort University, discussed her experience of using non-sporting archives to research international sport and diplomacy. The aim of this presentation was to highlight to researchers that valuable resources can be also found in non-sporting archives as well as for archivists so that they can help researchers.
Robert McNicol the Librarian at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, reviewed the history of Wimbledon and the Olympics as well as discussed their collection policy around past and future Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Helena Byrne the Curator of Web Archives at the British Library, discussed the UK Web Archive collections related to the Olympics/Paralympics as well as their general sports collection policy. Along with the ongoing collaboration with the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC).
We are still planning to hold a face-to-face event at the British Library in July 2021. This will be a full day symposium with a social event planned after the presentations. This event is sponsored by the British Library, ICSHC at De Montfort University, BSSH and the School of Advanced Studies.
We will closely monitor the guidance on coronavirus and social gatherings. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that by next summer planned events can go ahead.
For more details follow the BSSH website, social media, the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC) Twitter, the UK Web Archive Twitter as well as the #ResearchingTheGames hashtag on Twitter. Joining details will be posted online in spring 2021.