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Seoul 1988 Relay route IOC

Start date: 23 August 1988, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 17 September 1988, Olympic Stadium, Seoul (Republic of Korea)
First torchbearer: Athanassios “Thanassis” Kalogiannis, Olympic participant in athletics (1984, 1992).
Last torchbearers: Won-Tak Kim, Olympic participant in athletics (1988), Sun-Man Chung and Mi-Chung Sohn.
Number of torchbearers: 380 in Greece, 1,467 in the Republic of Korea
Recruitment of torchbearers: The Organising Committee chose torchbearers who lived in the cities crossed by the relay. Additionally, they also chose foreigners and Koreans living abroad based on the aim of promoting the relay internationally. 37,011 candidatures were received in total.
Among the torchbearers, there were celebrities, athletes, artists, people who had contributed to the development of the community, people with a disability, children, elderly people, religious people and representatives of various professions.
Distance: 358 km in Greece, 4,168 km in the Republic of Korea, of which 1,414 km was on foot, 2,188 km was by car, 493 km by boat, ~60 km by bike, ~5 km by motorbike and 7 km on horseback.
Countries visited: Greece, Thailand, Republic of Korea
Seoul 1988 Torch IOC Description: The torch bears the inscription Games of the XXIV Olympiad Seoul 1988 on the edge of the ring. Its handle is made of leather. At the top of the torch is the Olympic emblem as well as traditional Korean designs representing two engraved dragons symbolising the harmony of East and West. In Chinese astrology, the dragon was also the sign for the year 1988.
Colour: Brown, bronze
Height: 51 cm
Composition: Metal, copper, leather, plastic
Fuel: Manganese dioxide, barium chromate, magnesium and phosphorous
Designer/ Manufacturer: Lee Woo-Sung / Korea Explosives Co. Ltd.
Did you know? The safety lamp design was a scaled down version an ancient Korean astronomical observatory, Chomsongdae. A total of nine lamps measuring 35 cm in height and 15 cm in diameter were produced. Their composition of threefold steel plate and special aluminium was chosen in order to resist wind and pressure. Fuelled by kerosene they could burn for up to 140 hours.
Seoul 1988 Torch Relay Getty Images

Route design and details

After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame travelled across Greece for three days and two nights to arrive in Athens. From there, following a stopover in Bangkok, it travelled to the Korean island of Cheju-do, which it reached on 27 August.

On Cheju Island, two young pupils from Cheju school, a boy and a girl, marked the start of the next stage of the relay, which crossed the island clockwise. On 28 August, the flame set sail on board the Olympia 88 for Busan, where a cauldron was lit in Yongdusan Park. The following day, the main relay continued. The cauldron remained lit in the Park until 12 September when a secondary relay of 18.2 km took the flame to the city’s sailing club, where the sailing events were being hosted.

The main relay crossed the country from east to west, to symbolise harmony. In Kangnung, 12 young mothers carried the flame while pushing their children, all born in 1988.

On 16 September, the flame arrived in Seoul. It was taken to the City Hall, where it was received by the Mayor of the city. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the flame was carried into the stadium by Kee Chung Sohn, the legendary marathon winner of the 1936 Games, then participating under the name Kitei Son. Then, young sprinter Chun-Ae Im passed the flame to the last three torchbearers, who lit the cauldron together.

Did you know?

  • To commemorate the arrival of the torch on the island of Cheju, the Organising Committee decided to erect a monument in Shinsan Park and plant olive and cypress trees around it. The sculpture was made up of a granite base and eight vertically oblique columns which symbolised the Games of ’88 as well as a spiral in the centre which represented the five Olympic rings and the flame. It was unveiled, at noon, on 27 August 1988, when the torch arrived at the Park.
  • The Olympic cauldron measured 5.5 m in diameter and was perched on top of a slender, 22 m octahedral post. To light it, the last three torchbearers were raised by an elevator placed around the central post. The octahedral shape of the cauldron and column symbolise the year 1988.

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