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To commemorate the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games, the United Nations Postal Administration issued stamps on 17 August 2012 featuring six paralympic sports.
Played competitively in more than 100 countries, Goalball is one of the most popular Paralympic sports. It was initially developed as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers returning from the Second World War. Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with bells inside, it is among the most exciting team sports on the Paralympic programme.
Goalball is played by two teams of three visually impaired athletes on an indoor court with tactile lines, with goals at either end. The aim is to score by rolling the ball into the opposition’s goal, while the opposition attempts to block the ball with their bodies.
All athletes are visually impaired, and wear eyeshades to allow athletes with varying degrees of vision to compete together. The Goalball arena is silent during play so that players can hear the ball, but spectators are free to cheer when a goal is scored.
Sitting Volleyball made its debut as a Paralympic medal sport at the Arnhem 1980 Games. A women’s event was added to the Paralympic programme in 2004.
Sitting Volleyball emerged in the Netherlands in the 1950s, a combination of Volleyball and a German game called Sitzball. It really began to increase in popularity during the 1960s, and has since grown into one of the most fast-paced and exciting Paralympic sports. It is now played by athletes in more than 50 countries around the world.
Sitting Volleyball is played by two teams of six on a 10m x 6m indoor court divided by a net. The object of the game is to land the ball in the opposition’s half of the court, with each team allowed three touches of the ball (in addition to a legal block) before it must cross over the net. Matches are the best of five sets, with the first four sets played as the first to score 25 points; if a fifth set is necessary, it is won by the first team to reach 15 points. In all sets, a margin of at least two points is required for victory.
Athletics has been part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in Rome in 1960, and has produced some of the most iconic images in the history of the Paralympic movement.
With 1,100 athletes competing for 170 gold medals, Athletics is the largest sport on the Paralympic programme. The field events broadly fall into two categories. The list of throwing events includes Discus, Javelin, Shot Put and Club Throw, while the programme of jumping events includes High Jump, Long Jump and Triple Jump.
There are track events, in distances from 100m to 5,000m; field events, which include the High Jump and Shot Put; and the Marathon, which is held on the roads. Some athletes compete in wheelchairs or throwing frames, others with prostheses, and others with the guidance of a sighted companion.
No sport has as great a Paralympic history as Archery. It was featured at the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, the direct precursor to the Paralympic Games, and has been featured on every Paralympic programme since the first Games in Rome in 1960. At the London 2012 Games, 140 athletes will compete in nine different medal events.
The object of the sport is simple: to shoot arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible. Paralympic Archery targets are 122 centimetres in diameter, with the gold ring at the centre (worth a maximum 10 points) measuring just 12.2cm. Archers shoot at the target from a distance of 70 metres.
At the Paralympic Games, the individual competitions will be played in a knockout format. Matches will be played over the best of five sets, with each set consisting of three arrows per archer. The winners of each match will qualify for the next round, until the last two archers go head to head in the gold medal match.
Wheelchair Basketball was featured at the first Games in Rome 1960, and has remained on the Paralympic programme ever since. The women’s competition was added at the Tel Aviv 1968 Games. The sport was developed by American Second World War veterans as part of their rehabilitation, but its popularity soon spread around the world. It is now played in more than 80 countries.
The rules of Wheelchair Basketball are broadly similar to Basketball. The court is the same size, the basket is at the same height, and the scoring is identical: two points for a regular shot from open play, one point for each successful free throw and three points for a shot from a distance (6.75m from the basket). Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling, and are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalized for travelling.
There are 12 players in each team, with no more than five on the court. Every player is assigned a point value based on their functional ability, 1.0 to 4.5. During play, the total on-court point value for each team of five players cannot exceed 14.
Paralympic Table Tennis
Table Tennis has been part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games at Rome in 1960. With 29 medal events and nearly 300 athletes, Table Tennis is one of the largest sports on the Paralympic programme.
The sport is based on the same basic principles as Table Tennis, but it has a very different scoring system. At the Paralympic Games, matches are played over the best of five games, with the first player to 11 points (by a margin of two clear points) winning each game. The programme includes individual and team events for both standing players and wheelchair athletes.
At London 2012, all individual events will begin with a group qualification stage followed by a knockout competition, with athletes progressing through the draw until the finals. The team events will be conducted according to a direct knockout format.
A total of 11 different classifications are used in Table Tennis at the Paralympic Games. Classes 1-5 cover wheelchair athletes, classes 6-10 cover standing athletes, and class 11 covers athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Daniel Stolle is a German born illustrator, who lives in Finland. He is working mainly in editorial illustration and has worked together with The New York Times, The Washington Post, DIE ZEIT, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and many more publications.
First day cancellations
On 17 August 2012, first day hand-cancellations for the “Sport for Peace – Paralympic Games 2012 ” stamps were made available at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Palais des Nations, Geneva, and the Vienna International Centre. The hand cancellations can be seen in the scanned FDCs' above.
The stamps, in denominations of 45 cents, $1.05, F.s. 1,00, F.s. 1,40, € 0,62 and € 0,70, measure 50 mm horizontally by 35mm vertically, perforation to perforation.
The stamps and souvenir sheets were printed in offset plus silver foil by Cartor Security Printing (France).
About the Issue
The Olympic movement aspires to contribute to a peaceful future for humankind through the educational value of sport. It brings together athletes from all parts of the world in the greatest of international sports events, the Olympic Games, and it aims to promote the maintenance of peace, mutual understanding and goodwill—goals it shares with the United Nations.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will take place in London, England from 27 July to 12 August 2012. London will become the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.
The Paralympic Games are held every four years, following the Olympic Games, and are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Paralympics first started in 1948 when Dr. Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England for Second World War veterans that had spinal injuries. The competition took place between sports clubs and other hospitals on the same day as the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games.
The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome, Italy, in 1960 and involved 400 athletes from 23 countries. Originally, only wheelchair athletes were invited to compete. Since that time, the Paralympic Games have grown dramatically. Athletes competing at the Games are divided into the following disability groups; visual impairments, amputees, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and Les Autres—athletes with physical disabilities that are not included in the categories mentioned above.
The 2012 Paralympic Games will take place between 29 August and 9 September. They will be the biggest Paralympic Games ever featuring 4,200 athletes from 160 countries who will compete in 20 sports.
Sport is a universal language that can be a powerful tool in promoting peace, tolerance and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions. The 2012 Paralympic Games in London will continue its tradition of promoting the Olympic spirit by featuring exceptional athletes with amazing talents that continue to inspire people around the world.