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Archive material reveals details of doomed People’s Olympiad

olympiad_poster.jpgAs London gears up for the Paralympics, documents revealing details of the People’s Olympiad, which would have taken place 76 years ago this month in Barcelona, have gone online.

Archivists at the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick have uncovered and digitised programmes, letters and images from the 1936 Barcelona People’s Olympiad, an event set up in opposition to the Summer Olympics held that year in Berlin during the period of Nazi rule.

Despite gaining considerable support, the People’s Olympiad had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on July 17, 1936, just five days before the Olympiad was due to start.

Among the documents is a publicity poster for the People’s Olympiad; a programme; press cuttings; and letters of support.

A total of 6,000 athletes from 22 nations had registered for the People’s Olympiad, including sportsmen and women from the UK, the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and French Algeria. Teams from Germany and Italy had also signed up, made up of political exiles.

The government of the French Peoples’ Front had granted 500,000 Francs for the participation of the French delegation.

The People’s Olympiad was due to take place between July 22nd-26th, 1936 – 76 years and one day before the London Olympics Games begin. Alongside more traditional events such as swimming and boxing, the programmes also list chess and folk dancing.

The documents are part of more than 13,000 pages from the Trades Union Congress files relating to the Spanish Civil War. Staff at the University of Warwick’s Modern Records Centre have taken 13 months to scan and index all the material.

The online archive is called Trabajadores: The Spanish Civil War through the eyes of organised labour.

Click on the images below for print quality jpegs:

olympiad2.jpg olympiad_poster.jpgprogramme poster

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick,, 02476 150868, 07824 540863