Britain’s Royal Mail in hot water over gold-medal Paralympic discrimination

Cameron Smith
Fourth-Place Medal

While most of Great Britain celebrates surpassing the nation's prescribed pre-Olympics total medals target, the Royal Mail service has found a way to embroil itself in a political snafu after it admitted that it would not issue stamps for winners of gold medals in the Paralympic Games, as it has for each British gold-medal winner during the ongoing Olympics.

British gold medal velodrome star Sir Chris Hoy's Royal Mail stamp — Royal Mail
British gold medal velodrome star Sir Chris Hoy's Royal Mail stamp — Royal Mail

While that snub wasn't the most politically sensitive decision in the first place, the rationale being used to justify it has fallen in line for harsh criticism. That's because the excuse being used by the Royal Mail and ParalympicsGB (the official organizers of the Great Britain Paralympics team) is that issuing stamps for every Paralympics winner would be too difficult because the British Paralympic team is simply too talented.

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As reported by the New Statesman and The Metro, among other sources, the Royal Mail released a statement on its website which claimed that creating a stamp to be released the day after each Paralympic athlete's gold-medal-winning performance would be "logistically and practically impossible."

"In Beijing, ParalympicsGB won 42 gold medals over 10 days of competition, including nine in one day, and we are expecting a similarly world-class level of performance from our athletes this time around. As a result, it is logistically and practically impossible for Royal Mail to produce an individual stamp for every one of the gold medalists for ParalympicsGB."

That line of logic might be reasonable if it weren't for the lengths to which the Royal Mail has gone to instantly create a stamp for each British Olympic winner. So far, the service has released 22 stamps for each British gold-medal winner. That's only 20 fewer stamps than the entire Paralympic contingent would require if it matched the team's medal haul from Beijing, which is no small feat.

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The difference between the Olympic and Paralympic totals can only decrease from here as well, as it's likely that at least one or two more British athletes will finish their respective events in first place before the end of the Games.

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While there might be some logistical issues if Team GB experiences a particularly notable gold rush on one day, the production process for the special stamps really doesn't seem particularly difficult, or out of the ordinary, as you can see in the video above. Calling that "logistically and practically impossible" seems a bit much.

As a token gesture, the Royal Mail plans to release a series of six stamps celebrating Paralympic gold-medal winners after the competition wraps up. That has done little to quash disappointment among Paralympic backers, including the New Statesman blogger Josh Spero.

You can be damn sure that if by some stroke of skill, luck and genius the Olympic team won 42 gold medals there'd be stamps of all of them. And how hard can it be to produce 42 stamps when they're already producing a minimum of 22 for the Olympics?

Yes, Paralympians get gold postboxes in their hometowns, and there will be a series of six stamps celebrating our winners, but when LOCOG has done very well to place the Olympics and Paralympics on equal terms, giving our able-bodied and disabled athletes the same measure of respect, this difference becomes all the more noticeable.

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