The capital of Korea, Seoul, has one of the largest populations
of any city on the earth - an estimated 9 million. All the Olympics facilities
were ready and operational by the end of 1986. One and a half years before the
Games began! A proof of Korean ingenuity.
Tennis makes its re-appearance for the first time after it was banned back in 1924, characterized as a professional game. The IOC solved this problem by asking all the great stars who accepted to participate, to sign a statement that they cease to be professionals for, at least, 20 days! A great name in women's tennis is mentioned to have refused the invitation as she had a scheduled match within the days of the Olympiad.
American television companies paid an unsurpassed amount of $ 750 million for the transmitting rights, and that was only for broadcasting in the U.S. It is estimated that world TV rights were sold at far beyond $ 1.25 billion. It is also estimated that the Seoul Olympics cost the Korean government $ 1.75 billion. The Korean government never revealed whether they had any profit. Or loss.
After the big inauguration ceremony, Greece paraded first, not to honor the Olympics' birth country but merely because the letter G is the first letter of the Korean alphabet!
The athlete who gained most of the world attention was Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, initially for the best of reasons and later for the worst. Having looked somewhat out of form in the preliminary 100m rounds, he blasted away in the final to destroy a talented field of sprinters including arch-rival Carl Louis, and hitting an unbelievable world record time of 9.79 sec.! Three days later, and after a multiple test, it was officially announced that Johnson had ran under the influence of a very potent steroid substance. He was immediately disqualified. His gold medal was given to second runner Carl Louis. Louis said later: "It is impossible for me to believe it! If there is a mistake in the lab, I shall be very glad to give Ben back his medal, whom I consider a great athlete..."
At the same Olympics, lab tests disqualified also nine other athletes in wrestling, weightlifting and judo. Seoul managed to leave a very bitter aftertaste to the millions of Olympic sports lovers...
Text by Dimitri N. Marcopoulos
1988 Seoul Olympics: Various WebPages
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