Final week of Olympic-themed virtual international exhibition

The AICO Web Olympic Show, a more than two-month-long virtual international exhibition of Olympic collectibles, is set to close at the end of the week.

Known as AIWOS 2021, this year’s show features an array of Olympic-themed exhibits focused on stamps, postcards, medals, tokens, torches, pins, mascots, books, photos, posters and other collectibles and memorabilia. The International Association of Olympic Collectors (known by its French acronym, AICO) organized the online-only event, which began on July 23 and will run until Oct. 3. It includes 60 philatelic exhibitors, 19 memorabilia exhibitors, 11 youth exhibitors and eight court-of-honour exhibitors.

“You will discover here in a unique place, accessible to all, without limit or constraint, a hundred unique collections, coming from the four corners of the World, representing all the richness and the diversity of the culture of Olympism,” said AICO President Christophe Ait-Braham, who’s also a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Culture and Olympic Heritage Commission. “What brings together all this diversity is passion and sharing. Yes, these exhibitors have the passion for Olympism in them and the desire to share it with you. The Olympic collections also participate in a certain way in the research, protection and dissemination of Olympic culture and heritage.”

A six-person jury will evaluate the competitive philatelic exhibits according to Federation Internationale de Philatélie regulations.

A separate three-person jury will also evaluate each competitive memorabilia exhibit.

Show-goers are also encouraged to vote for their favourite exhibits as part of a popularity contest.

Voting closes on Oct. 1, and the palmares will be published on Oct. 2, when AICO hosts the show’s awards ceremony.


Giancarlo Morolli, the president of the AIWOS 2021 jury, highlighted Olympic philatelic in his message published in the show’s official program.

“Olympic and Sport stamps exhibitions have a special place in the history of philately. The first one was reported in Barcelona (1951) with the involvement of Juan Antonio Samaranch, past IOC president, who started his famous collection in 1945. The following year Rome hosted the ‘International Exhibition of Sport Stamps’ enthusiastically supported by Alberto Bonacossa, member of the IOC Executive Committee. In 1955 another exhibition was held in San Marino and that was my first contact with this world. As Board member of the International Center of Sport Philately (CIFS) I then worked in the Organizing Committee of the three great shows organized by this association, the first to gather collectors from several countries: ‘Verso Tokyo 64,’ ‘Verso Mexico 68’ and ‘Verso Monaco 72.’ Above all, the CIFS triggered the process who led the International Olympic Committee to approve unanimously the inclusion of philately in the Olympic cultural program (1960).

“In the ’70s, Sport and Olympic exhibits played an important role at the specialized philatelic exhibitions under the patronage of the Federation International de Philatélie (FIP) to the point that an Olympic exhibit was awarded the Grand Prix at Buenos Aires (1985). With the foundation of the International Federation of Olympic Philately (FIPO), philately was integrated into the Olympic family at the time chaired by Juan Antonio Samaranch. Starting in 1985 in Lausanne, FIPO launched the ‘Olymphilex’ that since Seoul 88 became a constant feature in the cultural program of the Summer Games. It kept such denomination till Athens 2004, and then became ‘Olympex’ in its last two editions, in Beijing and London.

“Now, after a nine-year pause, AIWOS continues this path gathering philatelists from all-over the world, in a virtual mode due to the pandemic. The addition of Memorabilia exhibits make the event more important and attractive.

“Dr. Manfred Bergman, who was one of the leaders of this process since its early stage, wrote, ‘Olympic Philately has many facets. We should remember two major ones: the satisfaction that it can give philatelists, bringing them closer to the Olympic Movement, and the cultural, historical aspect that makes it part of the Olympic heritage.'”

The competitive exhibition features three categories, including philately, memorabilia and youth, plus a non-competitive court of honour.


“The Olympic Games is a unique event that subtly combines sports, culture and education into one entity. This convergence delivers messages of global solidarity, resilience and hope,” said KhunyingPatama Leeswadtrakul, an IOC member and the chair of the Culture and Olympic Heritage Commission.

“The Games brings together people of different races, cultures, languages and nationalities and unite them into one to make a collage of harmony in diversity. Each edition of the Olympic Games has its own distinctive stories which can be narrated through various forms of texts, photos, videos, arts and collections.”

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