50 years with the IOF – feel at home even when away

Posted on | May 20, 2011 | Category: News

Imagine taking part in the first European Orienteering Championships in 1962. The map is not drawn in the way, nor in the scale, you are used to at home. Not even the colours are the same. You turn to the control descriptions to see where the first flag is. Turns out, it is “Stein”, or “Steinblock”. Your language skills do not include German, nor any Scandinavian language. And it does not get easier later on the course: what is “Grøftekne”, “Myr – suppestasjon” or “Putt”?

Today you do not need to know this. All you need to know are the map symbols and the control descriptions – the universal languages of orienteers. As the first IOF President, Erik Tobé,  said:  “The most important thing of all is that one should feel at home even when away. So the map must, now and forever, be drawn in the same way all over the world.

The IOF was founded 50 years ago, 21 May 1961, and the very first tasks of the new international federation included creating international specifications for map symbols (first published in 1969), and international competition rules for orienteering. Despite the years, the map specifications and competition rules remain an important task for the IOF today. Even when away, the orienteers should feel at home.

Here below some examples from the first years of the IOF:

Control descriptions at the European Championships 1962:

Part of the map from the second European Championships 1964:

Rules book cover from 1965:


First International Specification for Orienteering Maps 1969, page 1:


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