Seoul Republic of Korea, 1988

Legacy of the Games

The large-scale boycotts by Eastern Bloc countries which had marred previous Olympic Games were avoided in 1988, but the Games were not completely free of boycotts and protests.

North Korea, supported by Cuban president Fidel Castro, wished to be considered as joint hosts of the Games with South Korea. The President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, chaired a meeting of the North and South Korean Olympic Committees in Lausanne in January 1986 to discuss the issues. North Korea demanded that 11 of the 23 Olympic sports be carried out on its territory, and also demanded special opening and closing ceremonies, a joint organizing committee and a united team. These negotiations were not successful and the IOC therefore focused the Games in Seoul and South Korea. As a result, North Korea boycotted the Games, as did Cuba, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Albania and the Seychelles. Madagascar were expected to attend but at the last minute decided to join the boycott.

These were the last Olympic Games for two of the world’s top sporting powers, the Soviet Union and East Germany, as both ceased to exist before the next Olympic Games.