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Licensing of Olympic stamps

In early 2016, the International Olympic Committee distributed new guidelines for postal authorities in non-host countries wishing to license and produce Olympic stamps.


The IOC has recently announced major changes to its policy on licensing the use of Olympic properties on postage stamps and philatelic products. To apply from the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

In the past, the postal administration of the host nation would enter a license to use Olympic properties e.g. the Games logo, mascots, name of the Games etc with the Organising Committee for the particular edition of the Games. This will not change. The OCOG will still be the organisation to license the host nation postal administration to issue Olympic stamps. These stamps will commemorate the specific edition of the Games.

However, there is a significant change for participating nations. In the past, postal administrations of nations which were participating in the Olympic Games had to obtain a license from the IOC to issue Olympic stamps, i.e. to use Olympic symbols and words on postage stamps and philatelic products. The stamps could commemorate the specific edition of the Games, e.g. use the Games logo, but could not use the clear Olympic Rings.

As from the Rio 2016 Games, participating nations which wish to issue Olympic stamps must seek a license from their National Olympic Committee (NOC), not from the IOC. Licenses will only be issued for stamps which celebrate the participation of the national team in the Games, not the edition of the Games themselves.

The Olympic property which is available for license is the logo of the local NOC and the word mark of the particular edition of the Games e.g “Rio 2016”. Olympic property relating specifically to the Games e.g. the Games logo, Mascots, pictograms etc will not be available for use on the stamps of participating nations.

Stamps which are issued under license from the OCOG or the NOC are authorised, official, Olympic stamps. Stamps which use any Olympic properties but are issued without a license from the OCOG or an NOC are unauthorised, unofficial, stamps which have used Olympic properties without approval.