The early days of orienteering
The first public orienteering competition was held in Norway in 1897. It has been agreed that the time of this event be considered the birth of orienteering. Previous to that event, orienteering had been practised in the army. In 1886 the word ‘orienteering’ was, for the first time, used to mean crossing unknown territory with the aid of a map and compass. In 1895, orienteering competitions were held by the military garrisons in Stockholm and Oslo.
Orienteering as a sport in its own right started to develop in the Nordic countries at the beginning of the century. By 1930, orienteering had become firmly established in Finland, Norway and Sweden, with meetings and co-operation between these three countries already a regular feature.
The first international competition, between teams from Norway and Sweden, was held in Norway in 1932. Apart from a break for the war, the Nordic competitions continued, at first between Finland, Norway and Sweden, with Denmark joining in at a later stage. In 1946 a Nordic body for co-operation (NORD) was founded.
In 1959, an international orienteering conference was held in Sweden. Delegates from 12 countries participated, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, DDR (East Germany), Hungary, Switzerland, West Germany, Yugoslavia and the four Nordic countries.
The foundation of the IOF
The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) was founded on 21 May 1961 at a Congress held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 10 founding members were Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Since 1961, the IOF has had the pleasure of welcoming new countries from all continents, taking the total number of members to 73. Over the last decade, the total membership has increased by almost 50 % – a remarkable achievement in a short period of time. The development has been particularly rapid in Asia and in South and Central America, but also in Africa, where the only IOF member for many years, South Africa, is now accompanied by three other member federations: Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique.
The role and the constitution of the IOF
The IOF, recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is, amongst its members, the supreme authority on all matters relating to international orienteering. Orienteering is a sport involving non-motorised (with the exception of wheelchairs) navigation with a map. The recognised orienteering disciplines are foot orienteering, mountain bike orienteering, ski orienteering and trail orienteering. The IOF is made up of the national orienteering federations that have been admitted to membership.
IOF and the Olympic Movement
The IOF was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1977.
The IOF is a member of:
Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF)
International World Games Association (IWGA)
International Masters Games Association (IMGA)