Games of the XXIV Olympiad
17 September - 2 October 1988
The 1988 Seoul Olympic Games will be remembered for the numerous exceptional performances as well as for the highly mediatised disqualification of sprinter Ben Johnson.
Asia’s Second Olympic Games
This was the second time since Tokyo in 1964 that the Games were held in Asia. Awarding the Summer Games to South Korea provided the impetus for the country to embrace democracy. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) boycotted, and was joined by Cuba, Ethiopia and Nicaragua. Still, records were set with 159 nations participating, 52 winning medals and 31 taking home gold medals.
Canadian Ben Johnson set a world record in the 100m sprint, but tested positive for steroids. Johnson was the first world-famous athlete to be disqualified for using drugs. After his disqualification, Carl Lewis was awarded the 100m gold, meaning he had successfully defended his 1984 Olympic title.
Far Reaching Facilities for a Country with Few Horses…
The equestrian facilities, located at the Seoul Equestrian Park at Kwachon, began to take form as early as 1983 and were completed in April 1988. The Park provided stables for 970 horses and parking for 3,500 cars. It was huge investment for a country with practically no equestrian tradition. In fact a census a few years before had shown that Korea – a country of 41 million people – had only 1,058 horses, of which 500 were racing ponies.
All horses travelling to Korea had to spend 21 days in a pre-flight quarantine. Most European horses came on two flights – on 4 September and on 10 September – departing from Frankfurt via Moscow to Seoul. On arrival the horses stayed for 36 hours in quarantine at the Equestrian Park.
Jumping Final Misses out on the Closing Ceremony
As in Moscow, the individual Jumping was scheduled to take place in the Olympic stadium, with a seating capacity of 75,000, but unlike earlier Games when the final Jumping competition was held as part of the closing ceremony with only one ticket for both, the two events in Seoul were separate. The jumping competition started at 8am and ended at 1.30pm, five and a half hours before the closing ceremony for which there were separate tickets.
Staffing the Event
Permanent staff 1,300
Support personnel 16,044
Temporary employee 3,689
In addition there were, for the first time, 40 specialised volunteers, recruited from all over the world by the FEI and who worked mainly as stewards.
Games Facts & Figures
- 159 nations
- 8,391 athletes (2,194 women; 6,197 men)
- 25 sports
- 27,221 volunteers
- 11,331 media (4,978 written press; 6,353 broadcasters)
- The Games got off to a dramatic start at the Opening Ceremony when the torch was run into the stadium by 76-year-old Sohn Kee-Chung, the winner of the 1936 marathon. In 1936 Sohn had been forced to enter using a Japanese name because Korea was occupied by Japan.
- Swedish fencer Kerstin Palm became the first woman to take part in seven Olympic Games. Tennis returned to the programme after a hiatus of 64 years. The event was open to professionals, and Steffi Graf concluded her Grand Slam tennis season by winning Olympic gold.