|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Opening ceremony||17 September|
|Closing ceremony||2 October|
|Competition dates||17 September – 2 October|
|OCOG||Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee|
|Participants||8454 from 159 countries|
|Medal events||237 in 30 disciplines|
|Other events||28 in 5 disciplines|
In late September 1981, when the IOC awarded the 1988 Olympics to Seoul, the Olympic world was surprised, as the choice was highly controversial as many prominent nations in the Olympic Movement, notably the Soviet Bloc nations, did not have diplomatic relations with the Seoul government. After the political problems that had marred the last few Olympics, there was widespread concern that another boycott would ensue because of this.
The problem became more complicated in July 1985 when DPR (North) Korea demanded that it be allowed to co-host the Games with the Republic of Korea. Over the next three years the IOC negotiated with DPR Korea and offered to allow it to stage several events. However, this never occurred and DPR Korea subsequently announced that it would not attend the Seoul Olympics.
By then, however, most of the Eastern Bloc countries had agreed to compete in Seoul, making 1988 the first Summer Olympic competition in 12 years between the United States, the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic. After DPR Korea’s final announcement, Cuba and Ethiopia also announced that they would not attend the Olympics, out of solidarity. Nicaragua, Albania, and the Seychelles also did not attend the Olympics, though their reasons were less clear and may not have been directly related.
The Seoul Games went on and saw the largest participation in Olympics history. There were more nations and more countries represented than ever before. The Games themselves were excellent and very well run. Controversies and political intrusions, unlike the Games of the last 20 years, were relatively few and comparatively minor.
Three swimmers and one female track & field athlete dominated the sporting events. In the pool, the GDR’s Kristin Otto broke all sorts of records by winning six gold medals. It was an unmatched performance by a woman at the Olympics. Her only rival for swimming supremacy was America’s Janet Evans who won three gold medals. But they never raced each other, as Otto was a sprinter and Evans a distance swimmer.
On the men’s side of the pool, Matt Biondi was attempting to equal Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals. He failed in his first two events, taking a silver and a bronze. However, he then won gold in his last five events, to equal Spitz’s haul of seven medals, though they had a bit less lustre.
On the track, the world was stunned by the performances of Florence Griffith Joyner. A solid world-class sprinter for a decade, she had re-dedicated herself in 1988 and had shattered records at the US Olympic Trials. At the Olympics she won the 100 and 200, setting a world record in the 200 final. In the 100, she posted a time that was wind-aided, but was otherwise the fastest time ever recorded. She then helped the American women win a gold medal in the 4×100 relay. Finally, she was asked by the American coaches to run anchor in the 4×400 relay. She did so, and narrowly missed catching the Soviet’s Olha Bryzhina, as the Americans won a silver medal, in what many athletics fans consider one of the greatest races ever contested. Griffith Joyner’s total haul was three gold medals and one silver.
Unfortunately, the biggest media event of the 1988 Olympic Games was the disqualification of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, after he had won the 100 metres in the world record time of 9.79, defeating Carl Lewis in the process. A few days later, Johnson tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, and was disqualified with Lewis receiving the gold medal. After the uproar of the scandal, the Canadian launched an inquiry into drug use in international sport, the Dubin Inquiry. At the inquiry, Johnson admitted he had used steroids for several years.
One of Seoul’s legacies to the Olympic Movement was a new Olympic Flag. The main Olympic flag was termed the Antwerp flag, because it had been made in 1920 and donated to the IOC by the Antwerp organizing committee. However, the flag was now worn and it was soon to be retired to the Olympic Museum. Seoul provided the IOC with a replacement, fashioned from pure raw Korean silk, with the needlework done by skilled Korean craftsmen. Thus, the Seoul legacy will literally fly over many future Olympic Games.
Bid voting at the 84th IOC Session in Baden-Baden, West Germany on 30 September 1981.
|Officially opened by||Roh Tae-Woo (President)|
|Torchbearer(s)||Son Gi-Jeong, Kim Won-Tak (Lit flame), Sohn Mi-Chung (Lit flame), Im Chun-Ae, Chung Sun-Man (Lit flame)|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Son Mi-Na, Heo Jae|
|Taker of the Official's Oath||Lee Hak-Rae (Judo)|
|Olympic Flag Bearers||Yang Jeong-Mo, Yu In-Tak, Kim Won-Gi, Sin Jun-Seop, Jo Hye-Jeong, Choi Ae-Yeong, Yun Su-Gyeong, Seo Hyang-Sun|
|Artistic Gymnastics||Equestrian Eventing||Sailing|
|Artistic Swimming||Equestrian Jumping||Shooting|
|Cycling Road||Judo||Water Polo|
|Cycling Track||Modern Pentathlon||Weightlifting|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||12||10||11||33|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||5||11||12||28|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||IRI||0||1||0||1|
|United States Virgin Islands||ISV||0||1||0||1|
|Florence Griffith Joyner||USA||3||1||0||4|
|Svetlana Boginskaya|| BLR