1988 Summer Olympics

1988 Summer Olympics
Games of the XXIV Olympiad
Seoul 1988 Olympics logo.svg
Host city Seoul, South Korea
Motto Harmony and Progress
Nations participating 160
Athletes participating 8,391 (6,197 men, 2,194 women)
Events 263 in 27 sports
Opening ceremony September 17
Closing ceremony October 2
Officially opened by President Roh Tae-woo
Athlete's Oath Hur Jae and Shon Mi-Na
Judge's Oath Lee Hak-Rae
Olympic Torch Chung Sunman,
Kim Wontak and Sohn Kee-chung
Stadium Olympic Stadium

The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were an all international multi-sport events celebrated from September 17 to October 2, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan. They were also the fourth Olympic Games to be held in autumn.

In the Seoul Games, 160 nations were represented by a total of 8391 athletes: 6197 men and 2194 women. 237 events were held. 27221 volunteers helped to prepare the Olympics. 11331 media (4978 written press and 6353 broadcasters) showed the Games all over the world.[1]

These were the last Olympic Games for two of the world's "dominating" sport powers, Soviet Union and East Germany, as both ceased to exist before the next Olympic Games.

North Korea, still officially at war with South Korea, and its allies, Albania, Cuba, Madagascar and Seychelles boycotted the games. For differing reasons, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Albania (who declared an Olympic-record fourth consecutive boycott) did not participate in the Games. However, the much larger boycotts seen in the previous three Summer Olympics were avoided, resulting in the largest ever number of participating nations to that date.


Host city selection

Seoul was chosen to host the Summer Games in a vote held on September 30, 1981, finishing ahead of the Japanese city of Nagoya.[1] Below was the vote count that occurred at the 84th IOC Session and 11th Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden, West Germany.[2]

1988 Summer Olympics bidding result[3]
City Country Round 1
Seoul  South Korea 52
Nagoya  Japan 27


Koreans stand by the ceremonial torch of the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Fireworks at the closing ceremonies of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul
  • Soviet Vladimir Artemov wins four gold medals in gymnastics.[4] Daniela Silivaş of Romania wins three.[5]
  • After having demolished the world record in the 100 m dash at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, US sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner sets an Olympic record (10.62) in the 100-meter dash and a still-standing world record (21.34) in the 200-meter dash to capture gold medals in both events. To these medals, she adds a gold in the 4×100 relay and a silver in the 4×400. Just after the Games, she announces her retirement.[6]
  • Canadian Ben Johnson wins the 100 m with a new world record, but is disqualified after he tests positive for stanozolol. In 2004, Johnson accused the American sports authorities of protecting American athletes at the expense of foreign ones. He still claims to this day that André Action Jackson,[7] "the Mystery Man," put the stanozolol in his food or his drink.[8]
  • American boxer Roy Jones Jr. loses the gold medal to South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun in a very controversial 3–2 judge's decision. Allegations swirled that Korean officials had fixed the judging. Jones Jr. receives the Val Barker Trophy, an award for the most impressive boxer of the Games. The three judges ruling against Jones were eventually suspended.[9]
  • Lawrence Lemieux, a Canadian sailor in the Finn class was in second place and poised to win a silver medal when he abandoned the race to save an injured competitor. He arrived in 21st place, but was recognized by the IOC with a special award honoring his bravery and sacrifice.
  • US diver Greg Louganis wins back-to-back titles on both diving events, but only after hitting the springboard with his head in the 3 m event final. This became a minor controversy years later when Louganis revealed he knew he was HIV-positive at the time, and did not tell anybody. Since HIV cannot survive in open water, no other divers were ever in danger.
  • Christa Luding-Rothenburger of East Germany becomes the first (and only) athlete to win Olympic medals at the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics in the same year. She adds a cycling silver to the speed skating gold she won earlier in the Winter Olympics of that year in Calgary.[10]
  • Anthony Nesty of Suriname wins his country's first Olympic medal by winning the 100 m butterfly, scoring an upset victory over Matt Biondi by .01 of a second (thwarting Biondis attempt[11] of breaking Mark Spitz' record seven golds in one Olympic event); he is the first black person to win individual swimming gold.[12]
  • Swimmer Kristin Otto of East Germany wins six gold medals.[13] Other multi-medalists in the pool are Matt Biondi (five)[14] and Janet Evans (three).[15]
  • Swedish fencer Kerstin Palm becomes the first woman to take part in seven Olympics.[1]
  • In swimming Mel Stewart of the USA is favorite to win the men's 200 m butterfly final[citation needed] but comes in 5th.[16]
  • Mark Todd of New Zealand wins his second consecutive individual gold medal in the three-day event in equestrian on Charisma, only the second time in eventing history that a gold medal has been won consecutively.[17]
  • Baseball[18] and Taekwondo[19] are demonstration sports. The opening ceremony featured a mass demonstration of taekwondo with hundreds of adults and children performing moves in unison.
  • This is the last time the US are represented by a basketball team that doesn't feature NBA stars;[20] the team wins the bronze medal after being defeated by the Soviet Union.[21]
  • For the first time in history, all the dressage events are won by women.[22]
  • Women's judo was held for the first time, as a demonstration sport.[23]
  • Bowling was held as a demonstration sport, with Kwon Jong Yul of South Korea and Arianne Cerdeña from the Philippines winning the men's and women's gold medal, respectively.
  • Table tennis is introduced at the Olympics, with China and South Korea both winning two titles.[24]
  • Tennis returns to the Olympics after a 64-year absence,[25] and Steffi Graf adds to her four Grand Slam victories in the year by also winning the Olympic title,[26] beating Gabriela Sabatini in the final.[27]
  • Two Bulgarian weightlifters are stripped of their gold medals after failing doping tests, and the team withdraws after this event.[28]
  • Controversies occur involving boxers including a gold medal being awarded to a Korean light-middleweight after having apparently been defeated by an American boxer and an assault on a New Zealand referee by Korean officials after the referee cautioned a Korean bantamweight.[29]
  • Soviet weightlifter Yuri Zakhareivich wins the mens Heavyweight (up to 110 kg class) with a 210 kg snatch and 245 kg clean and jerk for a 455 kg total. Zakhareivich had dislocated his elbow in 1983 attempting a world record and had it rebuilt with synthetic tendons.

Live doves were released during the Opening Ceremony as a symbol of world peace, but a number of the doves were burned alive by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. As a result of protests following the incident, the last time live doves were released at the Opening Ceremony was in 1992 in Barcelona, hours before the flame was lit. Balloon doves were released in 1994 at the Lillehammer Winter Games and paper doves were used at the Atlanta Ceremonies in 1996.[30]

These were also the last Summer Olympic Games to hold Opening Ceremonies during the daytime due to hot summer weather. The Opening Ceremonies were highlighted by a skydiving team descending over the stadium and forming the 5-colored Olympic Rings,[31] as well as a mass demonstration of taekwondo.

Significance of the 1988 Olympics in South Korea

The Seoul Olympic Stadium seen from Han River, Seoul.

Hosting the 1988 Olympics presented an opportunity to bring international attention to South Korea. The idea for South Korea to place a bid for 1988 Games emerged during the last days of the Park Chung-hee administration in the late 1970s. After President Park’s assassination in 1979, Chun Doo-hwan, his successor, submitted Korea’s bid to the IOC in September 1981, in hopes that the increased international exposure brought by the Olympics would legitimize his authoritarian regime amidst increasing political pressure for democratization, provide protection from increasing threats from North Korea, and showcase the Korean economic miracle to the world community. South Korea was awarded the bid on September 30, 1981, becoming the 16th nation, the second Asian nation (following Japan in the 1964 Summer Olympics).

In an attempt to follow the model of 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a rite of passage for the Japanese economy and re-integration of Japan in the family of nations in the post-war era, the Korean government hoped to use the Olympics as a “coming-out party” for the newly industrialized Korean economy. The South Korean government hoped the Olympics would symbolize a new legitimacy of Korea in world affairs. The Olympics gave a powerful impetus to the development of South Korea's relations with Eastern Europe, the USSR and with the People's Republic of China.

As political demonstrations emerged in June 1987, the possibility of jeopardizing hosting the Olympic Games contributed to the June 29 declaration which issued President Chun out of power and led to direct elections in December 1987. The desire not to taint the Olympic Games with military dictatorship and riots served as an impetus for Korea’s transition to democracy. Roh Tae-woo served as the transitional president, directly elected by South Koreans in December 1987, during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

1988 Summer Olympics boycott

In preparation for the 1988 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee worked to prevent another Olympic boycott by the Eastern Bloc as had happened at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. This was made more difficult by the lack of diplomatic relations between South Korea and socialist countries. This prompted action by the IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was committed to the participation of these countries. Thus, at the Assembly of National Olympic Committees in Mexico City in November 1984, the "Mexico Declaration" was adopted; by it, the participants agreed to include the host of the Olympic Games in 1988. The agreement of the Soviet Union brought a pledge of equal participation, to which, however, various socialist National Olympic Committees reacted with incomprehension. After the Los Angeles games, East Germany had already decided to participate again in Seoul. The IOC also decided that it would send invitations to the 1988 Games itself and did not leave this task the organizing committee as had been done before. Despite these developments, behind the scenes, the IOC did consider relocating the Games and explored the suitability of Munich as an alternative.

Another point of conflict was the involvement of North Korea in hosting the Games, something encouraged by the Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz who called for North Korea to be considered joint host of the Games. As a result, on 8 and 9 January 1986 in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC President chaired a meeting of the North and South Korean Olympic Committees. North Korea demanded that eleven of the 23 Olympic sports be carried out on its territory, and also demanded special opening and closing ceremonies. There should be a joint organizing committee and a united team. The negotiations were continued into another meeting, but were not successful. The IOC did not meet the demands of North Korea and only about half of the desired sporting events were offered to the North. So the focus thereafter was solely on Seoul and South Korea.

North Korea boycotted the Games after the failed negotiations and was supported by Cuba, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Albania and the Seychelles also did not attend, but, in order to avoid sanctions by the IOC, did not call their absence a boycott. The participation of Madagascar had been expected, and their team was expected at the opening ceremony of 160 nations. However, the country joined the North Korean boycott.

Official theme song

The official Olympic Torch used during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

In 1988, the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOOC) decided to produce and distribute an official song of the Seoul Games to publicize the Games to all the IOC member nations, encouraging their participation in the festival and consolidating the harmony and friendship of the entire world citizens through the song. The song "Hand in Hand." was written by Italian composer Giorgio Moroder and American songwriter Tom Whitlock, and performed by singing group Koreana. "Hand in Hand" topped popular songs in 17 countries including Sweden, Federal Rep. Of Germany, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Japan and Hong Kong and was listed among the top 10s of the popular songs in more than 30 countries.


The World Peace Gate in Seoul.
Jamsil Indoor Swimming Pool.
Seoul Olympic Park at autumn.

¹ New facilities constructed in preparation for the Olympic Games. ² Existing facilities modified or refurbished in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Medals awarded

Erich Buljung shows off a silver medal he won in the 10m air pistol competition at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Demonstration sports

These were the demonstration sports in the games:[1]

Participating nations

Participants (blue nations had their first entrance).
Number of athletes sent by each nation.

Athletes from 159 nations competed at the Seoul Games. Aruba, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Guam, Maldives, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and South Yemen made their first Olympic appearance at these Games.

In the following list, the number in parentheses indicates the number of athletes from each nation that competed in Seoul:[32]

  • Brunei also participated in the Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies, marking its first appearance at the Olympic Games, but its delegation consisted of only one swimming official.

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games:[1]

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Soviet Union 55 31 46 132
2 East Germany 37 35 30 102
3 United States 36 31 27 94
4 South Korea (host nation) 12 10 11 33
5 West Germany 11 14 15 40
6 Hungary 11 6 6 23
7 Bulgaria 10 12 13 35
8 Romania 7 11 6 24
9 France 6 4 6 16
10 Italy 6 4 4 14


Hodori, the official mascot of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

The official mascot for the 1988 Summer Olympic Games was Hodori. It was a stylized tiger designed by Kim Hyun as an amicable Amur Tiger, portraying the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Korean people.[33] Hodori's female version was called Hosuni.[34]

The name Hodori was chosen from 2,295 suggestions sent in by the public. It is a portmanteau of ho, which is a derived word from the Korean word for "tiger" (horangi), and dori, which is a diminutive for "boys" in Korean.[33]

Broadcast rights

The games were covered by the following broadcasters:

See also

Olympic Rings.svg Olympics portal


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  2. ^ IOC Vote History
  3. ^ "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/5xFvf0ufx. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Honored Inductees - Vladimir Artemov". www.ighof.com. http://www.ighof.com/honorees/honorees_artemov.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  5. ^ "Honored Inductees - Daniela Silivas". www.ighof.com. http://www.ighof.com/honorees/honorees_silivas.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
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  10. ^ "Christa Luding-Rothenburger Encyclopædia Britannica article". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9002734/Christa-Luding-Rothenburger. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  11. ^ "Odds against Phelps eclipsing Spitz". Reuters. 2008-05-29. http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersComService_2_MOLT/idUSL2876024120080529. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  12. ^ "(Spanish) El deporte en el Sur". Alejandro Guevara Onofre, Liceus.com. http://www.liceus.com/cgi-bin/ac/pu/Alejandro_Guevara_Deporte.asp. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  13. ^ "Biography for Kristin Otto". IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1763167/bio. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  14. ^ "United States Olympic Committee - Biondi, Matt". usoc.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20071010090004/http://www.usoc.org/26_37838.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  15. ^ "United States Olympic Committee - Evans, Janet". usoc.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20071011230617/http://www.usoc.org/26_37840.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  16. ^ "(Italian) Nuoto - risultati 200m. farfalla uomini". www.coni.it. http://www.pechino2008.coni.it/index.php?id=469. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  17. ^ "History of Awards : 1980-1989". Halberg Trust website. http://www.powerupdates.com/clients/halberg/pages/a_article.asp?pid=0&cid=-630935410&aid=789227824. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  18. ^ "Demonstration Sports at the Olympic Games". topendsports.com. http://www.topendsports.com/events/discontinued/demo.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  19. ^ "About WTF - History". www.wtf.org. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20071005052615/http://www.wtf.org/site/about_wtf/history.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  20. ^ "The Original Dream Team". NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/history/dreamT_moments.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  21. ^ Alfano, Peter (September 28, 1988). "THE SEOUL OLYMPICS: Men's Basketball; After 16-Year Wait, Soviets Stun U.S. Again, 82-76". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/28/sports/seoul-olympics-men-s-basketball-after-16-year-wait-soviets-stun-us-again-82-76.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fO%2fOlympic%20Games&pagewanted=print. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  22. ^ "Canada at the 1988 Summer Olympics". www.sportsofworld.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20071013023535/http://www.sportsofworld.com/olympics/country-performance/canada/1988-seoul.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  23. ^ "Obukan Judo History". www.obukan.org. http://www.obukan.org/History.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  24. ^ "Olympic Table Tennis Champions". www.usatt.org. http://www.usatt.org/organization/champions/olympic_champions.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  25. ^ Alfano, Peter (1988-10-02). "The Seoul Olympics: Tennis; Tennis Returns to Good Reviews". www.nytimes.com. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DEEDA1638F931A35753C1A96E948260. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  26. ^ "(Spanish) Steffi graf, la mejor". elTenis.net. http://www.eltenis.net/tenis-femenino/steffi-graf-la-mejor.php. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  27. ^ "(Spanish) Gabriela Sabatini - Fotos, Vídeos, Biografía, Wallpapers y Ficha Técnica". www.idolosdeportivos.com. http://www.idolosdeportivos.com/tenis/gabriela-sabatini.php. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
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  29. ^ "Seoul Games scarred by riots". in.rediff.com. http://in.rediff.com/sports/2004/jul/05oly.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  30. ^ When messengers of peace were burned alive, Deccan Herald, August 12, 2004. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  31. ^ http://www.skydivecolumbus.com/demo_jumps.htm
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External links

Preceded by
Los Angeles
Summer Olympic Games

XXIV Olympiad (1988)
Succeeded by

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