237 in 23 sports
Harmony and Progress (Korean: 화합과 전진, Hwahabgwa Jeonjin)
8,391 (6,197 men, 2,194 women)
The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad (Hangul: 서울 하계 올림픽; Hanja: 서울 夏季 올림픽; RR: Seoul Hagye Ollimpik), were an international multi-sport event celebrated from 17 September to 2 October 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.
- Host city selection
- Significance of the 1988 Olympics in South Korea
- 1988 Summer Olympics boycott
- Official theme song
- Medals awarded
- Demonstration sports
- Participating National Olympic Committees
- Medal count
- Broadcast rights
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.
North Korea, still officially at war with South Korea, and its allies, Albania (who declared an Olympic-record fourth consecutive boycott), Ethiopia, Cuba, Madagascar, and Seychelles boycotted the games. Nicaragua boycotted the games because of the U.S. military support to the Contra rebels. 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
Seoul was chosen to host the Summer Games through a vote held on 30 September 1981, finishing ahead of the Japanese city of Nagoya. Below was the vote count that occurred at the 84th IOC Session and 11th Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden, West Germany.
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.
Live doves were released during the opening ceremony as a symbol of world peace, but a number of the doves were burned alive or suffered major trauma 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.
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, as well as a mass demonstration of taekwondo.
Significance of the 1988 Olympics in South Korea
Hosting the 1988 Olympics presented an opportunity to bring international attention to South Korea. The idea for South Korea to place a bid for the 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 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.
In utilizing media events theory, Larson and Park investigated the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a form of political communication. They revealed the significance of South Korea's military government throughout the period of the olympic bid and preparation, followed by the many advantages of the Seoul Olympics: rapid economic modernization, social mobilization, the legitimization of the military dictatorship, etc.
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
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. 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 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.
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
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.
¹ New facilities constructed in preparation for the Olympic Games. ² Existing facilities modified or refurbished in preparation for the Olympic Games.
According to The Oxford Olympics Study data are not available to establish the cost of the Seoul 1988 Summer Olympics. Average cost for Summer Games since 1960, for which data are available, is USD 5.2 billion.
The 1988 Summer Olympic programme featured 237 events in the following 23 sports:
These were the demonstration sports in the games:
CalendarAll times are local (UTC+10)
Participating National Olympic Committees
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:
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1988 Games.
* Host nation (South Korea)
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. Hodori's female version was called Hosuni.
The name 호돌이 Hodori was chosen from 2,295 suggestions sent in by the public. It is a compound of 호 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".
The games were covered by the following broadcasters: