A fourth boycott could have sunk the Olympic movement and the portents were ominous when the South Korean capital was awarded the 1988 Games.
Terrorism was also a major concern after a Korean Airline plane was destroyed by a bomb planted by North Korean agents, killing all 115 passengers in November 1987.
Times, though, had changed. The politicians had finally realised that boycotts hurt only the athletes and in the end only a handful of smaller nations stayed away.
This time it was an athlete, not a politician, who created the shockwaves. Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter with the torso of a prize fighter, sped to victory in the 100 metres final ahead of Lewis in a world record 9.79 seconds.
Three days later Johnson tested positive for the anabolic steriod stanozolol and was hustled out of Seoul protesting his innocence. At a Canadian government inquiry the following year he admitted he had been on a drugs regime since 1981.
Inevitably cynicism had replaced wonder when Florence Griffth-Joyner set a world record 21.34 seconds in the women's 200 metres, a time not even approached since let alone bettered.
Griffith-Joyner, whose body had been transformed since she had competed in Los Angeles, retired in the following year and died unexpectedly in 1998.
The boxing was tainted by poor judging. Home town fighter Park Shi-hun became the light-middleweight champion after five consecutive disputed victories, including a win over American Roy Jones Jnr in the final which mystified neutral observers.
**The 1988 Games was held at Seoul, South Korea, which had a
population of about 9 million. It was the most populous city to host the Games.
** Tennis was introduced in the 1988 Games for the first
time since 1924.
** There were an estimated 16, 000 media
personnel during the 1988 Games.
** A new Olympic flag was
hoisted in the 1988 Games since the old one, which was used since 1920 had been
** Some of the pigeons, which had been
released during the opening ceremony in the 1988 Games were caught in the rush
of the Olympic flame in the stadium.
** East German swimmer
Kristin Otto during the 1988 Games won a record eight gold medals - a record by
any woman, in any sport in the history of the Games.
East German swimmer Kristin Otto in 1988 at Seoul became the first swimmer to
win titles at three different strokes in the same Games.
Vladimir Salnikov of the Soviet Union became the only swimmer to regain a title
eight years after winning the 1500 freestyle event in 1980 and 1988.
** American Greg Louganis in the 1988 Games became the
first male diver to do the double 'double" when he successfully defended the
springboard and platform titles he won in 1984. He achieved this feat at Seoul
despite hitting his head on the board during a dive in the springboard
** Surinam's Anthony Nestor became the first
South American and the first black swimmer to win a swimming gold, when he won
the 100m butterfly in the 1988 Games.
** American Kenny
Monday in the 1988 Games became the first black competitor to win a wrestling
** By winning the silver medal in the women's sprint
cycling in the 1988 Games, East German Christa Luding became the first
competitor in Olympic history to win medals in the Summer and Winter Games in
the same year. She had won a speed skating gold and silver at Calgary just seven
** One South Korean boxer Byun Jong-Il
during the 1988 Games refused to leave the ring after the decision went against
him in his bantamweight bout, and remained there for over an hour!