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Sports, especially Olympics, are a popular collecting area. Fred's Olympic sports cachets make an interesting chronicle of changes in USPS design styles as well as the progression of Olympics from amateur-only sports for the people to super-commercialized Big Business. This area is a sideline for me, so my collection of Fred's covers is not complete, but I show most of them below. (Click on any image for a higher-resolution version.)

Click HERE to see my pages on Poster Stamps of the Olympic Games.

Before 1972, the USPS policy was to issue special stamps only for Olympic Games held in the US. Since 1972, there has been at least one stamp each for the Summer and Winter Games, with many more in years when the Games were held in the US.

1980 Olympic Games

1980 Olympic Games

The 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow were still being eagerly anticipated when the stamps on the left above were issued nine months earlier. The US boycotted those games, of course, to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The winter games in Lake Placid, on the other hand, took place with no major problems, and provided a very satisfying and unexpected Gold medal for the US ice hockey team! I'm not sure why Fred printed Los Angeles on the cover for the Summer Games - that wasn't until 1984.

1984 Olympic Games 1 (4/8/83)

1984 Olympic Games 2 (6/17/83)

1984 Olympic Games 3 (7/28/83)

1984 Olympic Games 4 (11/4/83)

1984 Olympic Games 5 (1/6/84)

1984 Olympic Games 6 (5/4/84)

The 1984 Summer Games were held in Los Angeles, and the USPS went berserk, with six separate issues of four setenant stamps each. Fred produced five covers per set, one with the four stamps together, and one for each individual stamp. Above are the covers with the complete sets of four, and below are four of the sets of singles - I'm missing two.

For the 1988 Games the USPS demonstrated astonishing restraint, issuing only one stamp each for the Summer and Winter games. Above is Fred's cover for the Summer Games stamp.

For the 1992 Olympics the USPS let themselves go again - after all, they were an official sponsor this time. They released four sets of five stamps: one, in 1990, to honor US Olympic champions; the second in 1991, in connection with Olympic trials in 1991 (hence the "1991" on Fred's covers for this set); and two more in 1992 in conjunction with the Winter and Summer Games themselves. In addition, they released two related stamps in 1991, the Flag with Olympic Rings, and the $1 Olympic Sponsorship stamp.

The pane of twenty stamps the USPS issued for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta was the focus of a major controversy between the USPS and the Olympic Committee. The USPS had chosen NOT to be official sponsors of these Games, and for a while it appeared they would not even be permitted to use the Olympic rings and the text "Centennial Olympic Games" on the stamps. The First Day ceremony for the stamps, originally scheduled for Atlanta, was moved at the last minute to Washington, DC, when the IOC protested USPS merchandising for the stamps. And the USPS was not allowed a Post Office on the grounds of the Olympics - altogether a sad commentary about the commercialization of everything in modern America.

There was one additional USPS issue for the 1996 Olympics, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the modern games.

There will be NO US Olympic stamps in the year 2000. The USPS refused to pay the licensing fee the IOC demanded for use of the Olympic logo, so there will be just this generic single for "Summer Sports", which the USPS advertising copy describes thus - Track is representative of the summer season's invigorating athletic activities and competitions.

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A Brief History of US Olympics Stamps

1932 - 3 singles
1960 - 1 single
1972 - 4 singles
1976 - 1 block of 4
1980 - 2 singles and 2 blocks of 4
1984 - 6 blocks of 4
1988 - 2 singles
1992 - 4 strips of 5
1996 - 1 single and a pane of 20
2000 - None!

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All text Copyright © 2000, William M. Senkus

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Revised -- 05/03/2000