1988 Seoul, South Korea

The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were an all international multi-sport events 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. 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.

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.

Highlights of the Seoul Olympics

ñSoviet Vladimir Artemov wins four gold medals in gymnastics. Daniela Silivaş of Romania wins three.

ñAfter 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.

ñCanadian 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 Jackson, “the Mystery Man,” put the stanozolol in his food or his drink.

ñAmerican 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.

ñLawrence 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.

ñUS 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.

ñChrista 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.

ñAnthony 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 of breaking Mark Spitz’ record seven golds in one Olympic event); he is the first black person to win individual swimming gold.

ñSwimmer Kristin Otto of East Germany wins six gold medals. Other multi-medalists in the pool are Matt Biondi (five) and Janet Evans (three).

ñSwedish fencer Kerstin Palm becomes the first woman to take part in seven Olympics.

ñIn swimming Mel Stewart of the USA is the favorite to win the men’s 200 m butterfly final[citation needed] but comes in 5th.

ñMark 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.

ñBaseball and Taekwondo are demonstration sports. The opening ceremony featured a mass demonstration of taekwondo with hundreds of adults and children performing moves in unison.

ñThis is the last time the US are represented by a basketball team that doesn’t feature NBA stars; the team wins the bronze medal after being defeated by the Soviet Union.

ñFor the first time in history, all the dressage events are won by women.

ñWomen’s judo was held for the first time, as a demonstration sport.

ñBowling 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.

ñTable tennis is introduced at the Olympics, with China and South Korea both winning two titles.

ñTennis returns to the Olympics after a 64-year absence, and Steffi Graf adds to her four Grand Slam victories in the year by also winning the Olympic title, beating Gabriela Sabatini in the final.

ñTwo Bulgarian weightlifters are stripped of their gold medals after failing doping tests, and the team withdraws after this event.

ñControversies 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.

ñSoviet 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.

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, as well as a mass demonstration of taekwondo.