International Olympic Committee mission develops study on legacy of Olympic Games

Dr. Luis Henrique Rolim visited historical archives at Olympic Studies Center, in Switzerland

11/08/2022 - 11h07

Photo: Archive personal

School of Health and Life Sciences professor and researcher, Dr. Luís Henrique Rolim, was selected for a research period at the Olympic Studies Center (OSC) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Switzerland. In July, he did research at the Historical Archives Collection of the OSC on the intangible legacy of the Olympic Games in view of the role played by the Olympic Flame Keepers. 

According to the researcher, the “Olympic Flame Keepers” are a group of men and women whose mission is to protect the flame during the entire torch relay route. The way he sees it, the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games is responsible for planning the intangible and tangible legacy for each Olympics. In his research, Rolim moved beyond his study of Rio 2016 in order to understand how the role of keepers was established throughout history and whether a legacy related to them was planned. 

During the mission at the Olympic Studies Centre, he had access to the IOC’s Historical Archive. He had the chance to research different Olympic editions from 1980 to the 2000s, as he analyzed over 500 documents, including letters, contracts and telegrams, as well as hundreds of minutes of meetings held by the IOC’s Executive Committee and Sessions in the past. The researcher also visit the OSC Library to investigate dozens of books, manuals and other publications to unveil the role of the keepers in different Olympic editions. 

His initial findings reveal that Keepers should gain more prominence when the legacy of the Olympic Games get into discussion. For Rolim, they have a symbolic relevance to the event’s tradition, and the work as Keepers allow them to know more about the country’s culture aside learned technical skills. The research also shows that in order to leave a legacy, Keepers must be involved in the fields of education or sport. There is evidence that these people would use the knowledge gained in these fields and would also seek to convey the feeling of being a keeper beyond an individual experience. 

Olympic Studies Research Group 

This project is in line with other initiatives by PUCRS’ Olympic Studies Research Group (GPEO). The idea is to start a project to preserve the memory of Rio 2016 from the perspective of other unknown actors, such as the keepers, volunteers, etc. This action will allow for a better understanding of the impact of the event and enable further research to preserve its memory for future generations. 

“To promote internationalization has always been one of my goals when I joined PUCRS as a faculty member. The fact that we have been selected to research at the IOC archives will make it possible to broaden the understanding of the Keepers’ role in other editions of the Olympic Games”, Rolim added. It is worth mentioned that the study was supported by the OSC Early Career Grant after the project was selected among many other projects, but being the only one from in Latin America in 2022. 

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