Olympic Philately has a special position in philately and a particular bond with the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games.
Those Olympic stamps were the first sports stamps, the father of them all. Today, for each Olympic Games, the host nation’s postal administration has an extensive stamp and philatelic programme, and nations participating at the Olympic Games are encouraged to issue a set of stamps. Typically, about 100 nations issue Olympic stamps for the Olympic Summer Games, and about 40 nations issue stamps for the Olympic Winter Games.
A Special Theme for Collectors
Thousands of Olympic-sport collectors are organised worldwide in 31 chapters of the International Federation of Olympic Philatelists (FIPO). Every two years, at Games time, many thousands of people who are not normally stamp collectors will collect Olympic stamps as an official souvenir of this special event.
Researching Olympic History
Olympic philately has a special place in Olympic research. Stamps, letters, postcards and postal cancellations provide an important insight into people and events, and offer official evidence of events, times and dates. Stamps and the letters attached to them tell fascinating stories of the Olympic Games and the people who participated in them.
Works of Art
Olympic philately as a hobby has a particular bond with the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games. The bond is two-fold: cultural-historical and economic.
Stamps are miniature works of art which communicate, graphically, the Olympic ideal. Significantly, the images and the message they convey are part of mass communication. Olympic stamps appear on millions of letters in hundreds of nations, and travel internationally. They are truly paper ambassadors for the Olympic Movement.
The economic bond was, in fact, the first one with the Olympic Games. In 1895, the decision to issue Olympic stamps made it possible for the Organising Committee to balance its budget and construct the last four venues. Thus, in some way, Olympic stamps were the first "sponsors" of the Olympic Games. Since then, Olympic stamps have contributed to the budget of Organising Committees for the Olympic Games, National Olympic Committees and Olympic events.
In cooperation with Phildom, the IOC can announce that the new Official IOC Catalogue of Olympic Stamps is now available. Five volumes of work document show over 26300 stamps issued for Olympic events dating back to the Athens 1896 Olympic Games. More information here: OLYMPIC COLLECTIBLES