1988 Summer Olympics

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1988 Summer Olympics

The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, was a multi-sport event held in Seoul, South Korea from September 17 to October 2, 1988. This Olympiad marked South Korea's emergence on the world stage, showcasing the nation's economic progress and technological advancements. The games were attended by 159 nations, bringing together over 8,000 athletes to compete in 23 sports and 237 events. The 1988 Summer Olympics are remembered for their high level of competition, moments of political significance, and acts of sportsmanship.

Background[edit | edit source]

The selection of Seoul as the host city for the 1988 Summer Olympics was announced on September 30, 1981, during the 84th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Baden-Baden, West Germany. Seoul was chosen over the Japanese city of Nagoya, marking the second time the Olympics were held in Asia, the first being the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The choice of Seoul was significant, highlighting the IOC's interest in promoting the Olympic movement in Asia and acknowledging South Korea's rapid development.

Preparation and Development[edit | edit source]

In preparation for the games, South Korea embarked on a massive infrastructure development program, which included the construction of new sports facilities, transportation networks, and accommodation for athletes and visitors. The Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, and the Olympic Village were among the key projects completed. These developments were part of a broader effort to modernize Seoul and improve the living standards of its citizens.

Opening Ceremony[edit | edit source]

The opening ceremony took place on September 17, 1988, at the Olympic Stadium. It featured a spectacular display of South Korean culture and history, including traditional music, dance, and a parade of nations. The ceremony highlighted South Korea's desire to present itself as a bridge between its rich past and its modern present. The lighting of the Olympic cauldron by South Korean archer, Chung Sun-Man, Sohn Mi-Chung, and Kim Won-Tak, symbolized the nation's hopes and dreams for peace and unity.

Sports and Highlights[edit | edit source]

The 1988 Summer Olympics featured 23 sports, including, for the first time, table tennis and tennis. The games were marked by several memorable moments, such as the thrilling duel in the men's 100-meter dash between Ben Johnson of Canada and Carl Lewis of the United States. Johnson initially won the gold medal but was later disqualified for steroid use, highlighting the ongoing issue of drug use in sports.

Another highlight was the performance of the Soviet gymnast, Vladimir Artemov, who won four gold medals, demonstrating the continued dominance of the Soviet Union in gymnastics. The games also saw the debut of the women's team gymnastics competition, which was won by the Soviet team.

Controversies[edit | edit source]

The 1988 Olympics were not without controversy. The most notable was the disqualification of Ben Johnson for doping, which led to increased efforts to combat performance-enhancing drug use in sports. Additionally, there were protests by North Korea and its allies over the hosting of the games by South Korea, which they viewed as illegitimate due to the division of the Korean Peninsula.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The 1988 Summer Olympics had a lasting impact on Seoul and South Korea. The games showcased South Korea's emergence as a modern, technologically advanced nation and helped improve its international image. The infrastructure developments made for the Olympics contributed to Seoul's transformation into a global city. Furthermore, the games played a role in easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, albeit temporarily, and highlighted the unifying power of sports.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD