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23 July 2010

On this day in history: First international sports federation founded, 1881

On 23rd July 1881, delegates from the gymnastic federations of Belgium, France and the Netherlands met at the Belgian festival of gymnastics at Liège, Belgium. They had gathered at the invitation of the president of the Gymnastic Society of Belgium, Nicolaas J. Cupérus, to create the Bureau des Fédérations Européennes de Gymnastique ('Office of European Gymnastic Federations') - the world's first international sports federation.

Cupérus served as the president of the federation for its first 43 years, during which time it welcomed new members and became associated with the nascent modern Olympic movement. In 1921 the organisation became the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique ('International Gymnastic Federation') as it accepted national federations from non-European countries. At that time it had sixteen members and a participant in the organisation of the Olympic games, drawing up rules of competition and scoring methodology.

You can learn more about the history of the organisation from the article, Culturel Base Of The Human Motricity, available on the FIG website.

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