VIII Paralympic Games
Host citySeoul, South Korea
MottoUnited for the Challenge
(Korean도전을 위한 화합; RRDojeon-eul Wihan Hwahab)
Events732 in 16 sports
Opening15 October
Closing24 October
Opened by
StadiumJamsil Olympic Stadium
1988 Summer Olympics

The 1988 Summer Paralympics (Korean1988년 하계 패럴림픽; RRCheon gubaek palsip-pal nyeon hagye paereollimpik) were the first Paralympics in 24 years to take place in the same city as the Olympic Games. They took place in Seoul, South Korea. This was the first time the term "Paralympic" came into official use.


The 1988 Summer Paralympics were the first Paralympic Games to be held under the aegis of the International Co-ordinating Committee (ICC).[1] The ICC was accepted into the Olympic Family, which allowed greater co-operation by National Olympic Committees in regards to the organization of Paralympic Games.[1] The Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOOC) regarded the Paralympic Games as an extension of the Olympic Games and formulated a support plan which allowed sharing of Seoul Olympic manpower, facilities, equipment, and sharing of key personnel.[1] The SLOOC gave a subsidy of $12,857,143 US dollars.[1] Due the due to infrastructure and adaptation problems was not possible to use the Olympic Village so a new Paralympic Village, consisting of 10 existing apartment blocks, was created, providing catering, recreation, banking, post office facilities, medical centres, religious centres, and a shopping mall.[1][2] The 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games was also the first time both the Olympics and Paralympics shared some shared some competition venues and some services such as the transport area and the volunteers and since then, every Winter and Summer Paralympic Games have been held in the same cities as the Olympic Games.[3]

The Seoul Paralympic Organizing Committee (SPOC) designed the first Paralympic Symbol which was used from 1988–1994. The Five 'teardrops' (resembling the halves of the taeguk pattern, also found in the Korean flag) in the 'W' configuration and colours of the Olympic rings represented the five oceans and the five continents.[1] This symbol was eventually changed after the 1994 Winter Paralympics, as it was considered to be too close to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) 5-ring emblem.[4] The 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games is considered as the start of the Modern Paralympic Games.[3]

Opening Ceremony

Australian flag bearer Paul Croft at the Opening Ceremony.
Australian flag bearer Paul Croft at the Opening Ceremony.

During the Opening Ceremony there were more than 75,000 people within the Olympic Stadium with a then record of 3,057 competitors from 61 nations.[5] The President of South Korea, Roh Tae-Woo, presented the new Paralympic flag to the President of the ICC, Jens Bromann.[2] Paul Croft, competing in his second Paralympic Games, was the flag bearer for Australia during the Opening Ceremony.[6]

Several elements used in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games were recycled or made on a smaller scale and another ones was added. As the enter made from parachutists in the Paralympic colors of blue, black, red, yellow, and green swept down into the Olympic Stadium following a procession of children in wheelchairs.[7] The Olympic Torch was carried in by a one-legged South Korean Paralympic volleyball player and handed to a 19 year old athlete with cerebral palsy, who in turn passed it to Cho Hyun-hui, a wheelchair athlete and him was wheeled around the stadium by her 7-year-old daughter before handing the Torch to blind runner Lee Jae-oon, who linked hands with women's handball Olympic gold medalist Kiifi Hyun-mi, who together, were carried up by elevator platform to light the Olympic Cauldron.[7]

Chief Paralympic Organiser Koh Kwi-nam addressed the athletes by saying "The goal you as athletes should try to reach for in the Games is not to accomplish the Olympic slogan of 'faster, higher and farther' but to show the world your real selves as courageous challengers, glorious conquerors and impartial participants."[7]


Mascots of the 1988 Summer Paralympics (Seoul)

The mascots of the 1988 Summer Paralympics were Gomdoori.


The Seoul Paralympic Games were not without controversies. The Iranian goalball team were disqualified for refusing to play against the Israeli team. It was deemed that the Iranian team had misused the sporting platform for political aims by the ICC who made immediate arrangements to send the team home.[2] Asghar Dadkhan, the Iranian team manager, made a formal statement of apology pledging that all other Iranian athletes would compete with full regard to the regulations and would compete against Israel and any other nation.[2]

A Libyan team arrived at the Seoul Paralympic Games without having gone through the normal entry procedures.[2] The SPOC urged the ICC to accept the Libyan team and a compromise was reached, permitting the Libyans to participate as observers. They could compete in the marathon event, however they would not have any medal entitlement, nor would they be officially recognized at the Closing Ceremony.[2]

Twenty-seven athletes were incorrectly awarded medals after the first round of competition in the men's and women's wheelchair slalom event. The mistake was discovered when officials realised that the medals should not have been awarded until after a second round of competition.[8]


The games consisted of events in seventeen sports, including one demonstration sport, but the medals count for the official medal list. Powerlifting and weightlifting were considered to be a single sport.[9]

Medal table

Main article: 1988 Summer Paralympics medal table

The top ten listed NOCs by number of gold medals are listed below. The host nation, South Korea, is highlighted.

1 United States919088269
2 West Germany766552193
3 Great Britain656554184
4 Canada554255152
5 France464450140
6 Sweden423823103
7 South Korea*40351994
8 Netherlands30242983
9 Australia23343895
10 Poland23253381
Totals (10 entries)4914624411394

Participating delegations

Sixty delegations took part in the Seoul Paralympics.[10] Burma, which had taken part in the previous Games, was absent. The Seoul Paralympics occurred mere weeks after the 8888 Uprising and the military coup which brought the State Peace and Development Council to power. Burma would return as Myanmar in 1992.[11]

The Soviet Union made its Summer Paralympic début, having previously taken part in the 1988 Winter Paralympics. It was not only the USSR's first participation in the Summer Games, but was also to be its last, as the Union was dissolved prior to the 1992 Summer Paralympics. It won a total of 56 medals, of which 21 gold. Other countries who made first appearances were Bulgaria, Cyprus, Iran, Macau, Morocco, Oman, Philippines, Singapore and Tunisia.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Scruton, Joan (1988). Stoke Mandeville Road to the Paralympics. Brill, Aylesbury, England: The Peterhouse Press. pp. 399–347. ISBN 0-946312-10-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bailey, Steve (2008). Athlete First: A History of the Paralympic Movement. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 91–137. doi:10.1002/9780470724323.ch5. ISBN 9780470724323.
  3. ^ a b Legg, David; Gilbert, Keith (2011). Paralympic Legacies (Sport and Society). Common Ground Publishing. pp. 47–51. ISBN 978-1-86335-896-5.
  4. ^ Purdue, David (2013). "An (In)convenient Truce? Paralympic Stakeholders' Reflections on the Olympic– Paralympic Relationship". Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 37 (4): 384–402. doi:10.1177/0193723513491751.
  5. ^ "'88 Seoul Paralympics". Official website of the Paralympic Movement. International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  6. ^ '88 Paralympics Appeal report (PDF). Australian Confederation of Sports for the Disabled. 1989.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c Reuter (16 October 1988). "Paralympics open with a joyful ceremony". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 27 October 2015 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Disabled athletes told to return wheelchair medals". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 21 October 1988. p. 18. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  9. ^ "1988 Seoul". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  10. ^ "Medal Standings – Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  11. ^ Burma at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee
  12. ^ Soviet Union at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee
Preceded byNew York–Stoke Mandeville Summer Paralympics Seoul VIII Paralympic Summer Games (1988) Succeeded byBarcelona–Madrid