1988 Summer Olympics

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"Seoul 1988" redirects here. For the Paralympic Games, see 1988 Summer Paralympics.
Games of the XXIV Olympiad
1988 Summer Olympics logo.svg
Host city Seoul, South Korea
Motto Harmony and Progress (Korean: 화합과 전진, Hwahabgwa Jeonjin)
Nations participating 159
Athletes participating 8,391 (6,197 men, 2,194 women)
Events 237 in 23 sports
Opening ceremony September 17
Closing ceremony October 2
Officially opened by Roh Tae-woo
President of the Republic of Korea
Athlete's Oath Hur Jae and Son 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 (Hangul서울 하계 올림픽; hanja서울 夏季 올림픽; RRSeoul Hagye Ollimpik), were an international multi-sport event celebrated from 17 September to 2 October 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, and which two years before, Seoul celebrate the 10th Asian Games in 20 September to 5 Octomber 1986. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan. It was also the first Olympic Games to be held in mainland Asia and the fourth Olympic Games to be held in autumn. The 1988 Games were the second to be held in a developing country, after the 1968 Games in Mexico (South Korea was still considered a developing country at the time of the games).

In the Seoul Games, 159 nations were represented by a total of 8,391 athletes: 6,197 men and 2,194 women. 263 events were held and 27,221 volunteers helped to prepare the Olympics. 11,331 media (4,978 written press and 6,353 broadcasters) showed the Games all over the world.[1]

These were the last Olympic Games for two of the world's "dominating" sport powers, the 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 during the Cold War era.

Host city selection[edit]

Seoul was chosen to host the Summer Games through a vote held on 30 September 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

After the Olympics were awarded, Seoul also received the opportunity to stage the 10th Asian Games in 1986, using them to test its preparation for the Olympics.


South Koreans stand by the cauldron 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 and equals Nadia Comăneci's record of seven Perfect 10s in one Olympic Games.[5]
  • After having demolished the world record in the 100 m dash at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, U.S. 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 final with a new world record, but is disqualified after he tests positive for stanozolol. Johnson has since claimed that his positive test was the result of sabotage.[7][8]
  • In the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Team All-Around Competition, the US women's team is penalized with a deduction of five tenths of a point from their team score by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) after the compulsory round due to their Olympic team alternate Rhonda Faehn appearing on the podium for the uneven bars during the duration of Kelly Garrison-Steve's compulsory uneven bars routine, despite not competing, having been caught by the East German judge, Ellen Berger. The US finishes in fourth place after the completion of the optional rounds with a combined score of 390.575, three tenths of a point behind the German Democratic Republic. This still remains controversial in the sport of gymnastics, as the US performed better than the East German team and they would've taken the bronze medal in the team competition had they not been penalized or had an inquiry accepted to receive the points back. If they had medaled, it would have also been their first gymnastics medal in the team competition (men or women) and their first gymnastics medal overall on the women's side in a fully attended Olympics (disregarding the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics which were boycotted by the Soviet Union and the East Germans) had the controversy not been visited in the first place.
  • Following the controversy involving the US women's team in artistic gymnastics, American gymnast Phoebe Mills wins an individual bronze medal on the balance beam, shared with Romania's Gabriela Potorac, making history as the first medal (team or individual) ever won by an American woman in artistic gymnastics at a fully attended games (disregarding 1984).
  • The USSR (Soviet Union) wins their final team gold medals in artistic gymnastics on both the men's and women's sides with scores of 593.350 and 395.475 respectively. The men's team is led by Vladimir Artemov, while Elena Shushunova leads the women's team.
  • Lawrence Lemieux, a Canadian sailor in the Finn class, is in second place and poised to win a silver medal when he abandons the race to save an injured competitor. He arrived in 21st place, but was recognized by the IOC with the Pierre de Coubertin medal honoring his bravery and sacrifice.
  • U.S. 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.[9]
  • 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 Biondi's attempt[10] of breaking Mark Spitz' record seven golds in one Olympic event); he is the first black person to win individual swimming gold.[11]
  • Swimmer Kristin Otto of East Germany wins six gold medals. Other multi-medalists in the pool are Matt Biondi (five)[12] and Janet Evans (three).[13]
  • Swedish fencer Kerstin Palm becomes the first woman to take part in seven Olympics.[1]
  • In swimming, Mel Stewart of the U.S. is the favorite to win the men's 200 m butterfly final[citation needed] but comes in 5th.[14]
  • 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.[15]
  • Baseball[16] and Taekwondo[17] 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 U.S. is represented by a basketball team that doesn't feature NBA players;[18] the team wins the bronze medal after being defeated by the Soviet Union which went on to win the Gold Medal.[19]
  • For the first time in history, all the dressage events are won by women.[20]
  • Women's judo was held for the first time, as a demonstration sport.[21]
  • 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.[22]
  • Tennis returns to the Olympics after a 64-year absence,[23] and Steffi Graf adds to her four Grand Slam victories in the year by also winning the Olympic title,[24] beating Gabriela Sabatini in the final.[25]
  • Two Bulgarian weightlifters are stripped of their gold medals after failing doping tests, and the team withdraws after this event.[26]
  • Controversies occur involving boxers including a gold medal being awarded to a Korean light-middleweight after having apparently been defeated of an American boxer (Roy Jones Jr) and an assault on a New Zealand referee by Korean officials after the referee cautioned a Korean bantamweight.[27]
  • Soviet weightlifter Yury Zakharevich wins the men's 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.
  • Indonesia gained its first medal in Olympic history after the women's team won a silver medal in archery.

Live doves were released during the Opening Ceremony as a symbol of world peace, but a number of the doves were burned and major trauma 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 Ceremony in 1996.[28]

These were also the last Summer Olympic Games to hold the Opening Ceremony during the daytime. The Opening Ceremony featured a skydiving team descending over the stadium and forming the five-colored Olympic Rings,[29] as well as a mass demonstration of taekwondo.

Significance of the 1988 Olympics in South Korea[edit]

Hosting the 1988 Olympics presented an opportunity to bring international attention to South Korea.[30] 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.[31] South Korea was awarded the bid on 30 September 1981, becoming the 20th nation (16th in the Summer Olympics), 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 South 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 Soviet Union and with China.[32]

As political demonstrations emerged in June 1987, the possibility of jeopardizing hosting the Olympic Games contributed to the 29 June 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.

1988 Summer Olympics boycott[edit]

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 communist 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" [1] was adopted; by it, the participants agreed to include the host of the Olympic Games in 1988.[clarification needed] The agreement of the Soviet Union brought a pledge of equal participation. However, various communist National Olympic Committees reacted with incomprehension.[clarification needed] 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 to 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 that had been encouraged by Cuban president Fidel Castro, 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. It wanted 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.[33]

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.[34]

Official theme song[edit]

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.
Seoul Olympic Park in 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[edit]

The 1988 Summer Olympic programme featured 237 events in the following 23 sports:

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

Demonstration sports[edit]

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


All times are local (UTC+10)
 ●  Opening ceremony     Event competitions  ●  Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
Date September October



Field hockey
Football (soccer)

Modern pentathlon


Synchronized swimming
Table tennis
Water polo

Total gold medals 5 7 9 14 17 12 30 26 9 15 9 11 36 37 9
Date 17th
September October

Participating National Olympic Committees[edit]

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, Brunei, Cook Islands, Maldives, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and South Yemen made their first Olympic appearance at these Games. Guam made their first Summer Olympic appearance at these games having participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

In the following list, the number in parentheses indicates the number of athletes from each nation that competed in Seoul:[35]

Participating National Olympic Committees
  • Brunei 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[edit]

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1988 Games.

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

  *   Host nation (South Korea)


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.[36] Hodori's female version was called Hosuni.[37]

The name 호돌이 Hodori was chosen from 2,295 suggestions sent in by the public. It is a compound of ho, the Sino-Korean bound morpheme for "tiger" (appearing also in the usual word 호랑이 horangi for "tiger"), and 돌이 dori, a diminutive for "boys".[36]

Broadcast rights[edit]

The games were covered by the following broadcasters:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Seoul 1988". olympic.org. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  2. ^ IOC Vote History
  3. ^ "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Honored Inductees – Vladimir Artemov". www.ighof.com. Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  5. ^ "Honored Inductees – Daniela Silivas". www.ighof.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  6. ^ "World Sport – Florence Griffith-Joyner". CNN. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  7. ^ Pitel, Laura (23 September 2003). "A Look at André Jackson, the Mystery Man (and friend of Carl Lewis) in the Drug testing area with Ben Johnson in Seoul". The Times Online (UK) (London). Retrieved 23 September 2003. 
  8. ^ "Ben Johnson acusa a EEUU de proteger a sus atletas dopados". www.elmundo.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  9. ^ "Christa Luding-Rothenburger Encyclopædia Britannica article". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "Odds against Phelps eclipsing Spitz". Reuters. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008. 
  11. ^ "El deporte en el Sur". Alejandro Guevara Onofre, Liceus.com (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  12. ^ "United States Olympic Committee – Biondi, Matt". usoc.com. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  13. ^ "United States Olympic Committee – Evans, Janet". usoc.com. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "Nuoto – risultati 200m. farfalla uomini". coni.it (in Italian). Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  15. ^ "History of Awards : 1980–1989". Halberg Trust website. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  16. ^ "Demonstration Sports at the Olympic Games". topendsports.com. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  17. ^ "About WTF – History". www.wtf.org. Archived from the original on 5 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  18. ^ "The Original Dream Team". NBA.com. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  19. ^ Alfano, Peter (28 September 1988). "THE SEOUL OLYMPICS: Men's Basketball; After 16-Year Wait, Soviets Stun U.S. Again, 82–76". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  20. ^ "Canada at the 1988 Summer Olympics". sportsofworld.com. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  21. ^ "Obukan Judo History". obukan.org. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  22. ^ "Olympic Table Tennis Champions". usatt.org. Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  23. ^ Alfano, Peter (2 October 1988). "The Seoul Olympics: Tennis; Tennis Returns to Good Reviews". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  24. ^ "Steffi graf, la mejor". elTenis.net (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  25. ^ "Gabriela Sabatini – Fotos, Vídeos, Biografía, Wallpapers y Ficha Técnica". idolosdeportivos.com (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  26. ^ "The Seoul Olympics: Weight Lifting; Team Lifted After 2d Drug Test Is Failed". www.nytimes.com. 24 September 1988. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  27. ^ "Seoul Games scarred by riots". in.rediff.com. Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  28. ^ When messengers of peace were burned alive at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 August 2004), Deccan Herald, 12 August 2004. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  29. ^ http://www.skydivecolumbus.com/demo_jumps.htm
  30. ^ Horton, Peter; Saunders, John. "The 'East Asian' Olympic Games: what of sustainable legacies?". Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  31. ^ Manheim, Jarol. Rites of Passage: The 1988 Seoul Olympics as Public Diplomacy. Western Political Science Association. pp. 279–295. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  32. ^ Cho, Ji-Hyun; Bairner, Alan. "The sociocultural legacy of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games". Taylor and Francis. doi:10.1080/02614367.2011.636178. 
  33. ^ "Sport and Politics on the Korean Peninsula – North Korea and the 1988 Seoul Olympics" NKIDP e-Dossier No. 3. Retrieved 23 April 2012
  34. ^ de:Olympische Sommerspiele 1988#Sportpolitik
  35. ^ "Olympic Games Participating Countries – 1988 Seoul". olympic-museum.de. Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  36. ^ a b "Hodori – mascot of the 1988 Olympic Summer Games". beijing2008.com. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2007. 
  37. ^ "Seoul 1988 – Hodori and Hosuni". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 8 October 2007. 


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Los Angeles
Summer Olympic Games

XXIV Olympiad (1988)
Succeeded by