|This commemorative issue marks the
Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Athens, Greece in August (Olympic Games) and September (Paralympic Games) 2004.|
The stamps celebrate competition at the
highest international level with colourful stylised illustrations of athletes in three sports/disciplines common to Olympic and Paralympic Games. Two stamps (Swimming and Athletics) illustrate Olympic competition, the third stamp (Cycling) illustrates Paralympic competition.
An Olympic sport must be widely practised by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents.
Only individual sports and disciplines widely practised in at least 24 countries and three regions, and team sports and disciplines widely practised in at least 18 countries and three regions may be considered for inclusion in the Summer Paralympic Games.
The First Games of the modern Olympic era took place in Athens in l896, when about 300 athletes from thirteen countries competed in nine different sports. In Athens 2004, approximately 10500 athletes from 201 countries will compete in 28 different sports and a total of 37 disciplines. A discipline is a branch of an Olympic sport comprising one or more events.
With about 530 athletes, the 2004 Australian Olympic team will be the largest Australian team to attend an Olympic Games abroad.
In 1960 about 400 athletes from 23 countries competed in eight sports at the First Olympic style games for athletes with a disability.
These games, which were held in Rome, are considered the First Paralympic Games. Six of the original eight sports (Archery, Swimming, Fencing, Basketball, Athletics and Table tennis) are still included in the Paralympic Competition Programme.
Since then Paralympic Games have been
organised every four years, always held in the same year as the Olympic Games. The first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden in 1976. In 1955, the Seoul Paralympic Summer Games marked a significant change, with Olympic and Paralympic Games held at the same venues, a practice that continues to the present.
At the 12th Paralympic Summer Games
more than 4000 athletes from more than 140 countries will participate in 19 sports including several, such as Boccia, Goalball, Powerlifting and Wheelchair Rugby that are unique to Paralympic competition.