skip to main content
Gallup Vault
Gallup Vault: South Koreans Ebullient Olympic Hosts in 1988
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: South Koreans Ebullient Olympic Hosts in 1988

Gallup polling in nine countries leading up to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, found 82% of South Koreans believing the games promote good relations among the participating countries, well ahead of the 55% saying this in the U.S.

Olympic Games Seen as Positive Force in International Relations in 1988
On the whole, do you think the Olympic Games generally improve relations between countries taking part, make relations worse or don't make much difference?
Improve relations Worsen them No difference
% % %
South Korea 82 6 2
Spain 71 2 19
Uruguay 68 2 21
Turkey 67 1 16
Mexico 66 3 23
Australia 58 4 35
United States 55 3 40
Great Britain 43 5 48
West Germany 39 3 45
U.S. results based on telephone survey conducted July 1-7, 1988; international results based on average of 1,253 interviews per country, conducted between June and August of 1988

Other countries among the nine included in the study where a majority of the residents saw the Olympics as a positive force were Spain (71%), Uruguay (68%), Turkey (67%), Mexico (66%) and Australia (58%).

Great Britain and West Germany lagged the United States in giving the games a positive review, with 43% and 39%, respectively, believing they improve relations.

No more than 6% of residents in any of the countries surveyed in 1988 thought the Olympics worsen relations. Rather, the vast majority of those who didn't think the impact was positive said the games made no difference.

Residents of the 1988 host country also expressed the most interest in the Olympics, even though the question was asked about interest in the Olympics in general, not in terms of the 1988 Games specifically. Eighty-six percent in South Korea said they were "very interested" or "interested" in the Olympics, contrasted with 40% in Turkey, where people were the least interested. Americans' interest was about midway between the two, at 61%.

Keep It Moving

George Gallup Jr. and Alec Gallup, authors of the Sept. 12, 1988, Gallup news release on this poll, noted that in spite of past controversies, residents of all nine countries surveyed in 1988 favored having the Olympics' location continue to rotate rather than having a permanent site. In their words:

"The American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Soviet Union's withdrawal from the 1984 Los Angeles Games heightened demands for reform, including the proposal -- endorsed by Presidents Carter and Reagan -- for a permanent home for the Olympics in Greece, where the ancient games and several of the early 'modern' Olympics were held. This proposal currently has relatively little public appeal in any of the nations surveyed, with large majorities preferring that the games continue to move from country to country every four years."


Read more about Gallup polling on the Olympics.

View the original 1988 Gallup news release on how the Olympics affect country relations.

Read more from the Gallup Vault.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030