Bill Mallon, Olympic historian

Historian Bill Mallon on Seoul 1988

Release Date: January 5, 2023

Category: History | Podcast | Seoul 1988

Happy Non-Games Year! It’s our first episode of 2023, and for the first time in three years, we’re not anticipating having an Olympics and Paralympics. But there’s still plenty to talk about in the world of the Games, so never fear–this will be an interesting year for the podcast!

As is our tradition, we’re dedicating our first episode of the year to the Games that will be the focus of our history moments in 2023. You have selected Seoul 1988, so we are really excited to dig into these Games. To kick things off, we’ve got Olympic historian Bill Mallon to share some of the background, big moments, and legacies of these Games.

In our check in with Team Keep the Flame Alive, we have updates from TKFLASTANIs:

Plus, we have news from Paris 2024, Winter 2030 and Brisbane 2032! If you want to apply to volunteer with Team Ireland for Paris 2024, go here.

We’d love to hear your favorite moments from Seoul — let us know what you remember from those Games!

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. 

Episode 268: Historian Bill Mallon on Seoul 1988

Jill Jaracz: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined us.

Always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello. How are you? Happy non-game year.

Alison Brown: Oh my goodness. Happy New Year. I thought of that yesterday as I was working on the calendar and getting things into our calendar, getting things into my calendar, and I said, this is the first time in three years where.

Six weeks of my life is not automatically backed off because in 2020 we were ready. Mm-hmm. , and then they changed the minds. And of course 2021 was Tokyo, and then 2022 was Beijing. And now I’m kind of like, what do I do with myself? And I say to myself, you actually get yourself ready for Paris 2024 in an appropriate rather than breakneck.

Jill: that would be nice, right?

Alison: sounds exciting. But we’re not getting ready for Paris 2024 today. We’re actually going backwards.

Jill: That’s right. As we like to do at the beginning of the year, we like to kick off our historical moment every year. this is year number three, we have done this.

We choose one games to focus on and we have a little history moment where we share a story from that games to help you remember those great days because really, you remember everything so vividly while it happens. and then six months or a year or four years later, you’re, some of these stories are really tough to remember and it’s fun revisiting some of the amazing moments that games can provide.

So, you all chose Soul 1988, as it is the 35th anniversary of those games. I did the math. No, you’re right. Your math is right. Okay. Excellent. 35th anniversary of those games. And to kick things off, we talked with Bill Mallon. Bill is the co-founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians, also known as I S O H.

That is an organization dedicated. To promoting and studying the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games. Bill served as president of the I S O H and continues to serve on its executive committee. He is also an orthopedic surgeon and former professional golfer. If you like O Limp Media, the website Bill is one of the people behind that.

So to get us started on our historic Olympics for this year, we spoke with Bill about these summer games in Seoul, 1988. Take a listen.

[00:03:01] Bill Mallon Interview

Jill: Bill, thank you so much for joining us. We are excited to have you to kick off our year of celebrating Soul in 1988. Let’s start a little bit about how those games came to be. So when, when Soul won the bid, that was 1981 and the, whole, the whole movement was in a totally different place

Bill Mallon: then.

You’re right. September, 1981. It was seven years ahead of time. The, the biggest difference between when they were selected and when the games went off was South Korea was more of a dictatorship when it was selected in 81.

And they sort of changed governments over the next few years. . And in addition there was a lot of negotiation, right? Between 1982 and through 1987 with the North Koreans, who sort of wanted to host some of the events.

Jill: well obviously they didn’t get to host some of those events. how did that work out? were people in favor of that? Because reunification must have been some of the talk of the day, right?

Bill Mallon: Yeah. I’m not sure reunification’s the talk of the day, even today when I was in Pyeongchang in 2022, I, I kind of did a dual role there cuz I, I spent some time in my day job as an orthopedic surgeon with some of my Korean colleagues and I asked them about that and they’re not.

Really all that in favor of reunification with North Korea for a number of reasons. And it certainly wasn’t on the table in 88. I, I think the I O C really wanted to send out an olive branch to the North Koreans to allow them to host a couple events. And the negotiations were done to a great extent.

By Dick Pound, the, very prominent Canadian IOC member. And, and Dick later wrote a book about it called Five Rings Over Korea that really um talked about the negotiations in detail. And it never came to be because no matter what they [00:05:00] offered, the North Koreans would say, we want more, we want more.

And of course, the South Koreans and the sole organizing committee was pushing back against that cuz they didn’t want to really give up. You know, a lot of the games to the North Koreans. So it just never came to pass. None of the events were held on the north side.

Alison: So in 1981, when the games were awarded, you’re coming off the Financial Disaster of Montreal 76, the Boycott of 1980, and they award them to South Korea.

What, what was the I O C’s mood when it didn’t have that many choices? Only two cities even bid for 88.

Bill Mallon: Yeah. The o the other option was Nagoya Japan that bid against them. And I, I don’t really know. I’ve never been to Nagoya. But I’ve been to about five different cities in Japan, but that’s not one of them.

I, I, it’s not high up on my list when I think of the prominent Japanese cities. And I think that was part of the reason. The IOC wasn’t really in favor of it. It’s certainly not Tokyo uh it’s not Osaka you know, Kyoto or anything like that. So I, I think they were sort of a, as occasionally they are and have been left with two choices that weren’t ideal for them.

Sort of like, Soshi in 2014 where they didn’t really have a great choice either. So they, they selected Seoul. I mean, it’s a, capital of a a country that was part of the, Pacific Rim, and, and emerging economies. And it was becoming prominent just like Japan had in the late sixties and seventies become very prominent on the world stage.

So I think they wanted to send the games there. I, I think they also They had not had a Asian summer Olympics since it, since 1964. Tokyo. That was the only other one at that time. So I think they were reaching out to have an Asian games.

Alison: Were there concerns about athlete safety from, say, North Korea going into Seoul when the, when that first award happened?

Bill Mallon: Well, I think there’s always concerns about athlete safety. You know, I’ve been to 14 Olympics now, and I always worry a little bit about just my own safety . But you know, the, if you’ve been to Olympics anymore security is so high. I mean, you know, we always worry about something happening again, like, uh Munich 72 or even the, the bombing that occurred in Atlanta in 96.

But geez, when you, when you see the security. We, you’d have to pull off some amazing feats, I think to create a, disaster scenario like that again. So it, it’s always discussed. And you know, the fact that Seoul not, not only is Seoul in South Korea, it’s fairly close to North Korea. It’s up on the I don’t know the mileage or the kilometer ridge if that’s even a word, but , you know, I, I, I know when I looked at the maps and also in, in Pyeongchang, I didn’t go cuz I had a little health issue there.

But some of the US Olympic Committee people, as the games ended actually went up to the demilitarized zone and actually you know, got to look across to uh North Korea. So it’s, it’s very close to. .

Alison Brown: You mentioned earlier the South Korean government was more of a dictatorship.

What was the mood when the games were awarded in the country itself?

Bill Mallon: You know, you’re, you’re pushing my memory here a little bit now, but in, in general when a country is chosen as Olympic host, there’s usually euphoria in the country. They usually are pretty excited about it in most cases.

The United States and Canada may be different because we’re so pragmatic about the expenses and the difficulty in hosting an Olympic games. But in the rest of the world you know the Olympic games are one of the two major sporting events that occur along with what’s going on right now.

FI is World Cup. for us in the us it’s the NFL and the Super Bowl are by far the most prominent sports in sporting event. But the rest of the world doesn’t even know about the Super Bowl, really. so certainly there was euphoria in South Korea

Jill: in terms of the planning and, and getting the games ready.

How was Korea as a host?

Bill Mallon: Uh I think Korea did a great job. I, I was not there. That’s one of the last games I haven’t been to. At that time I was a, a resident in orthopedic surgery and it was kind of hard as a resident in orthopedic surgery. You say I want two weeks off to go to the Olympic Games,

But I, I never heard any complaints from anyone that was there. And as far as I, I know um it was well handled. The IOC was happy with what happened there, except for the Ben Johnson incident of course. But . Otherwise, I, I, I think they did, did a very good job. We’re,

Alison: we’re gonna get to Ben Johnson

Bill Mallon: I figured you might.

Alison: So, over the years of planning, we get there, it opens, it starts, things are okay, we’ve got new sports, we’ve got a lot of great stories.

So let’s start, instead of starting with the, the bad Ben Johnson’s, let’s start with some of the, the better things, the happier things. What are the big stories that, you know, as we’re talking about it over the next year? Should we not miss

Bill Mallon: [00:10:00] That’s a tough question. You know, they had a, a few new events and one thing that was going on was that women.

Were becoming more prominent. They, they hadn’t equalized the program, but women were allowed to do more and more sports than they had before. And it, it was also the next to last games at which they did demonstration sports. And they had three demonstration sports that ended up becoming on the Olympic program over the next few Olympics badminton baseball on TaeKwonDo.

The I O c basically limited demonstration sports after the 1992 Olympics. Tennis was there for the first time since 1924. It had been a demonstration sport in 1984. Table tennis was now a sport . A big sport for the Asian athletes, especially China. You know, they’re, they dominate that sport.

And rhythmic gymnastics and what was then called synchronized swimming were on the program for the second time. they both had been held in 1984, but they were there now for the first time.

Jill: For our listeners who are more new to the movement, explain what a demonstration sport was and how it compared to a sport on the program in terms of medals and counting and towards medal totals and all of that.

Bill Mallon: Sure. Demonstration sports were non-metal sports. They didn’t actually receive the same Olympic medals as someone in track and field or gymnastics or swimming or the, primary sports on the program. They were. Basically what the term says. They were there to demonstrate the sport as a possible Olympic sport for the future.

The organizing committees and, and the demonstration sports first started appearing around 1920, and the organizing committees were usually allowed to choose two sports at the Olympics. One that these were suggestions. These weren’t hard and fast rules. One was a sport that was sort of indigenous to that country, which is how TaeKwonDo became a demonstration sport in 88 because it’s, it’s sort of the, the main Korean martial, art.

Art. And the other one was supposed to be a sport that was more internationally known, but was sort of on the verge of coming onto the Olympic program or that the I O C was considering for the Olympic program. The athletes again, do not receive the same medals as the athletes in their regular Olympic program do.

There’s even some question about whether these athletes should be called Olympians that participate in demonstration sports. There’s a, a big I wouldn’t say fiasco, but a big discussion in Olympic circles at which I’m sort of a part of in the US to try to define who is an Olympian.

In terms of if you actually competed or if you were a, goalie on the football or soccer team and you sat on the bench, you never got into a game, is that person an Olympian? You know, rowing has alternates. They always take a few alternates. Is that personal Olympians and That same question comes up with the demonstration sports.

Are those athletes considered Olympians? We’re still discussing it. Don’t ask me what the answer is cuz I, I can’t tell you.

Jill: What did they get if they won, if they didn’t get a traditional Olympic medal,

Bill Mallon: they received a participation medal. And I think they received some type of medal different than the regular medal if they had finished in the top three.

And the other thing that they do did receive were diplomas. It’s not very well known, but in the Olympics you win a gold for first place, silver for second, bronze for third place. The fourth through eighth, eighth place, finishers also received diplomas. From the, I Ooc, actually the first through eighth place, the gold, silver, and bronze medalists also get a diploma.

And I, I believe that the demonstration sport athletes also received diplomas for their finishes.

Jill: it’s interesting because we always think of demonstration sports as kind of the entree, but it didn’t realize that they had kind of a second class citizenship within the games in a sense.

Bill Mallon: Yeah. A again,

I, I don’t know if you count them as Olympians or not the I o c about two years ago under President Thomas Bach, instituted this new, rule or something like that, in which, you know, for an example you know, I’m a, I’m a orthopedic surgeon, and so after my name, I have md after my name, well, the, the I O C has instituted this new rule that Olympic athletes can put O l Y after their name, like a physician or.

like a PhD or something like that. And that’s why this, what’s the definition of an Olympian has come up because one someone who’s an Olympian sort of wants to show that off with the oil y and two, especially in other countries , especially Eastern Europe Olympians people considered Olympians get some financial rewards from the, country both in terms of you know, monetary awards if they win medals, but also they can get increased pensions and things like that.

So [00:15:00] being able to say you’re an Olympian is a big thing in a lot of other countries. So. Trying to get that definition right is tricky and we’re, we’re working on it.

Jill: it is kind of interesting because what if you, are one of these TaeKwonDo athletes from 1988 and you’ve been getting an Olympians pension and then all of a sudden that gets re the classification gets reworked and you’re not pension eligible anymore, I guess.

Bill Mallon: Yeah. There was a, a very sad thing, I think it was in 2014 in Soshi. There was an American freestyle skier, and I forget her name unfortunately, who tore her acl, her anterior cruciate ligament, in training, like the day before the Olympics when she. Or the day before her event was gonna start and they, they showed a film of her and she’s crying both because of the pain of the injury.

But I remember she sort of cried out, plaintiff, am I still an Olympian? You know, cuz it means a great deal to someone to say I was an Olympic athlete. And you know, I can tell you that people who say they’re an Olympic athlete and really weren’t, are not very well thought of by Olympic athletes.

Alison: what kinds of things did Seoul end up with because of the Olympics?

Bill Mallon: , well, so upgraded its airport.

It, it also built what they call in China and Korea. They enlarged their ring roads, which we call beltways. They did that and of course they built a bunch of stadium. Now whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, you know, is another argument entirely. I personally think that you shouldn’t give an Olympics to a city that has to build all sorts of stadiums to hold it.

If they don’t have the stadiums to begin with, they shouldn’t get them awarded. But the other thing that Seoul did was, you know, to North America, I, I bet half of North America couldn’t tell you where Seoul Korea was before the 1988 Olympics. It puts the city on the international map for two to almost three weeks.

You know, in a prominent position in North American television and then television around the world.

Alison: Okay, so let’s talk about the not so great stories. The most famous being Ben Johnson, which I’m sure we’re gonna get into as we do our bits, but let’s set the stage for that rather unfortunate

Bill Mallon: situation.

Well, Ben Johnson was a Canadian sprinter who, had won the World Championships in 1987 in the a hundred meters, and was considered the best sprinter in the world. He’d sort of taken over for Carl Lewis, who was still the best long jumper in the world, but Lewis in the last year, so had not been able to beat Ben Johnson.

And in the a hundred meter final in Seoul, Johnson won with Lewis finishing second. And Johnson broke the world record. I think he ran 9 69. I’d have to go look that one up. But but he did set a world record and beat Lewis pretty handily. A anyone who looked at Ben Johnson in that era had to be a little suspicious cuz he, he looked like kind of a combination of Arnold Schwartzenegger and Lou Ferno for a sprinter.

Uh He was very muscular. He, he also, from a physician’s point of view, he, he also always looked jaundice to me. His eyes were yellow um which can be a, a sign of liver problems, which is a known complication of steroid use. And, you know, Johnson was hailed as the great sprinter. He defeated the, fable Carl Lewis, who’d won four gold medals in 84, unfortunately.

The next day or actually it was in the middle of the night. It became fairly well known and was released that Lewis had tested positive for anabolic steroids, which everybody thought he was using anyway. He was on a, a drug called slo which is a fairly well known anabolic steroid.

And he was disqualified and Lewis was advanced eventually to the gold medal. And it was a big black eye for the I o c that this guy had been, lionized as the, great sprinter in Canada had embraced him. And now he had, he was disqualified It later turned out the a hundred meter final.

in Seoul besides Ben Johnson has been called the dirtiest race of all time. Although there’s, I think the 2012 women’s 1500 meters may rival it, because every person in the final at one time or another in his career was either caught for doping or was suspect suspected of doping.

Now, now, doping and penalties for doping and the way they were tested for were very different in 1988 than they are now. Back then about the only time you got tested was at the Olympics or at a major sporting event. Now, athletes get tested or are, may be tested 24 7, 365 even out of competition when they’re in training.

back then you could take whatever you want in training. And some people said it, it wasn’t a doping test, it was an IQ test. Cuz as long as you were smart enough to stop taking things shortly before the [00:20:00] competition, you couldn’t really fail the doping test as because the, the stuff would clear outta your system by the time the game started.

But almost everyone in that final at some time or another ran a foul of, or was suspected of running a foul of doping problems. But yeah, it was the big black mark. You know, again, going back to Dick Pound, the Canadian IOC member, he was the one that really was in charge that night of going to uh Johnson and, you know, telling him if this was positive and going to the Canadian team and.

Yeah, it was hard on him. Dick was a Canadian and there is a Canadian and it was a big win for Canada. They, they loved it, especially, you know, beating Carl Lewis and Americans and stuff like that. But yeah, this was not the, high point of the Soul Olympics.

Alison: And it was a real turning point in doping and testing and just that relationship with Olympic sport.

Bill Mallon: Yeah, absolutely. It was um Canada did a thing called the Dubin inquiry. Dubin was a judge in Canada who presided over it and to look into doping in Canadian athletics. And Johnson later admitted in that inquiry that he had been on steroids long term and that, and a couple other things that happened in professional cycling.

In the nineties were really the impetus to form waa the world anti-doping agency that tests or is in charge of setting the standards for testing and overseeing testing at major sporting events. And that really was, and when WAA came into being, that was when they really changed the way they tested from only at major sporting events to testing, unannounced 24 7, 365.

So anybody could be tested at any time if you were considered a, a national level athlete,

Jill: right?

Because even if you stop the steroids in time for them to be out of your system for competition, isn’t there residual effect that you’ve built up muscle say that you wouldn’t have been able to build up otherwise?

Bill Mallon: Yes. And some people say it almost doesn’t matter. when you stopped or how far out from the last time you took the drugs were that you’ve al you will always have an advantage gained because you were able to use the drugs for a number of years or at least months and gained that advantage.

And as an example, I, I remember a, a friend of mine I, I I met back in the early seventies, and I hadn’t known him very long, but he was really a muscular guy. And I, I asked him one time, did, did you ever, you know, do a lot of weightlifting? And he said, you know, I only weight lifted when I was like 16, 17, and 18 years old.

Well, that’s when men go through puberty and that’s when we have the testosterone rush which, builds muscles and strength and also. Builds a few other things too. And uh so when he was lifting at that time, basically he was sort of on steroids because he was lifting while, and, and he was left with that, that body and that build for lifetime because uh you know, he’d done this at exactly the right time to get, big and muscular.

It, it doesn’t really go away for a long time.

Jill: Another low point on these games was the boxing tournament. What can you tell us about that?

Bill Mallon: Well, the, the biggest thing there was a guy named Roy Jones who became one of the greatest boxers of all time. after he turned professional he became a world champion at eight different weight classes.

So Roy Jones was fighting as a light middleweight in Seoul. And uh even though he wasn’t professional, he was still a great boxer. And he went to the finals and he fought a, Korean boxer named Park Sing Hunton. And he pummeled the guy . I mean, he just, everyone in the world thought this was Roy Jones won the gold medal and the judges gave it to the Korean boxer.

And so Jones had to accept the silver medal even though they had a computer punch count and Jones out punched park 86 to 30. So, it wasn’t really even close. So, it’s considered the worst. , decision in Olympic boxing history,

Jill: which, which says a lot, although given the

Bill Mallon: history, it says a great deal considering how many bad things there are.

And there were a couple other decisions somewhat like that. One went against a Korean and he staged a protest sitting in the ring for about an hour before they finally convinced him to leave the ring. But that stuff happens. They, there’s a thing very few people know about. At the Olympic Boxing Tournament, they give out a thing called the Val Parker Trophy.

And the Val Parker was a boxing administrator back in the fifties and sixties from Great Britain. And the Val Parker TR Trophy is supposed to be given out to the best boxer at the Olympics in any weight class. They can pick anybody. Well, they gave the Val Parker trophy to Roy Jones cuz they had to give him something after stealing the gold medal from him.

But yeah, it was , uh, , not a great not a great decision and terrible for Roy Jones. You

Jill: mentioned that you were in [00:25:00] residency during this time. Were you able to watch much of these games?

Bill Mallon: By 88 I was pretty far along in residency and yeah, I, I watched some of them when I was home and not on call.

By then, I was only on call about every fourth night back for 84 in Los Angeles. I was on call every other night, so it was really hard for me to watch Los Angeles all I’d been to the Olympic trials that year. But yeah, I saw a lot

Jill: of them. What were some of your favorite moments or most memorable moments?

Bill Mallon: My favorite moment was probably watching Greg Louganis you know, when his gold medals again in both the Springboard and Platform which he did. And, that was also one of the more dramatic events of the games. You know, Greg Louganis, most people consider the greatest male diver of all time.

He won gold medals in 1984 in both Springboard, springboard and Platform in 1980. the US boycotted and at that time, in 1980 Louganis had not been defeated in a diving competition in like three years. He’d won a silver medal at the 76 Olympics on platform. And so, you know, everyone was expecting him to win and he came through.

But what was dramatic about it was on the springboard in qualifying On his next to last dive in qualifying, he actually hit his head on the edge of the springboard as he came down. You know, his head kind of scraped the springboard, and you can see he’s getting thrown off. And he had a very poor finish.

He got a very low score on that dive, but he was, he was so far ahead by then. He qualified easily anyway. And the US doctor actually had to sew him up before he took his next dive, which he did. And he finished the last dive, he did well, and the next day in the finals, he won the gold medal in that.

And then a few days later, he won the platform gold medal again. So, you know, he won four gold medals in a row there in diving. And if it wasn’t for the 19 eight boycott, he would’ve won six, almost certainly. But the, the thing that was revealed later was at the time of the Soul Olympics.

and it was not announced at that time. And he the doctor and the other athletes didn’t know it. Greg Louganis was h hiv v positive. Louganis la later came out as gay, although I think everyone knew he was at that time anyway. But when you think about it, the doctor, I remember the pictures were sewing him up and I, I don’t think he had gloves on, which is unusual for a US doctor not to look gloves when they’re sewing up someone.

But you know, he is exposed to the virus and the blood and the, the blood was theoretically in the pool water for the other divers. So, as I recall Lewis’s coach did know that he was HIV positive at the time, but Louganis had not revealed that to anyone else.

but an amazing comeback form to win the gold

Alison: medals in. We can’t downplay what AIDS and H I V were in 1988. the terror that people felt about it at the time and not revealing it was

Bill Mallon: Yeah, a Allison. That’s a great point. You know, I stopped practicing in 2014. Clinically, I’m, uh I’ve been the editor of the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery for 15 years, which was my subspecialty.

But a friend of mine and I did a couple things on Twitter where during the pandemic, the Covid Pandemic, and we said, Hey, listen in the eighties we were way more scared of H I V. Because it was a death sentence in 1988. If you got h I v, you were gonna die. Really the first prominent person I heard about getting it and, you know, living a long time and he’s still alive and doing well as Magic Johnson.

Until Magic Johnson came along, everybody was dying from it. And we were scared to death to get stuck. In fact, there was a very prominent orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco, a woman, a female orthopedic surgeon there who stopped practicing. She was so scared of it. She refused to expose herself. Now, San Francisco with its, its larger gay population, might have been, you know, a much higher risk out there than Durham, North Carolina, where I was, but we were all scared of it.

So yeah, what, what Louganis did not revealing, he was positive, was a little fool, hearty actually. But on the other hand, how he came back and won the gold medal was also pretty amazing. . I

Alison: just remember that video so clearly. And hearing that thunk when he hits his head and, and how that has to be even separate from the H I v, which we learned later, that has to be every diver’s nightmare to hit their head like that.

Well, you know,

Bill Mallon: my father, my father was a, a pretty good diver when he was young. He wasn’t like national caliber, but he was fairly good. And he told me that one of the things they used to do in practice was try to come as close to the springboard as they could when they came down. That was the better dive.

Instead of diving way out into the pool, you wanted to go straight up and come straight down. And my dad said he actually did hit his head one time a little bit. There was also a Soviet diver, who competed in 1983 named uh Sergei Cey Bosch, who [00:30:00] was on the platform and hit his head, doing a dive that was so difficult.

They called it the dive of death. And unfortunately that became a reality. Cey Bosch Village hit his head hard enough. He died from hitting his head. Now that’s on the platform. That’s a lot harder than the springboard, but not that hitting the springboard isn’t still bad. The dive of death was so hard.

The only diver that successfully was able to do it very often was Louganis back then. Probably a lot of the male Chinese divers in the next few years were able to do it, but bad thing.

Alison: So happier note. What else? What else do you remember with Joy?

Bill Mallon: Well, a guy who’s not remembered very much that should be is a guy named Matt Biondi in swimming

You know, everybody talks about Michael Phelps and how incredible he was. And everybody seems to remember Mark Spitz in 1972 winning seven gold medals and seven events with seven world records. And he did. But everybody seems to forget. Matti in 1988 at Seoul, Yondi competed in seven events and won five gold medals and seven medals.

So, you know, he had an amazing games himself and he was mostly a sprinter. He won gold into both the 50 and a hundred meter freestyles and uh then a bunch of metals or gold medals in relays with the US and a silver medal and the a hundred butterfly. And he’s kind of forgotten. There was another swimmer at the 88 Olympics.

That’s also not. As well remembered. And there’s a reason for that, probably named Kristin Otto. Kristin Otto was from East Germany, or what they prefer to be called the German Democratic Republic. Kristin Otto entered six events at the Soul Olympics and won six gold medals. And that’s an all-time record for women at a single Olympic games for most medals won.

And it’s only been surpassed by men by Spitz and Phelps. So that was an amazing thing that Otto did. Now, the problem is that, again, Otto was from East Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and it was later after reunification with West Germany. It was later revealed that most of the East German athletes were on huge doping regimens and taking all sorts of drugs, especially the women.

And we even have records of it because there were. Lawsuits and, discovery and things like that. There was a East German police organization called the Stasi, and the records of the Stasi came out that show what the athletes were taking, who was taking what. So we know what they were taking.

And, and Otto was definitely on all sorts of steroids at that time. Again the East German sports program was so well designed to avoid their athletes testing positive. You, you might not know this, but no East German athlete ever tested positive in an international competition in the history of east Germany because they would always test their athletes back home before they sent ’em to the games.

If they were positive. They didn’t send them, you know, so they always were negative at the games. But Otto was on all sorts of things. So even though she did an amazing thing in swimming it comes with a big caveat.

Alison: Are those records. Asterisk in the books.

Bill Mallon: No they’re not. And that discussion’s come up multiple times.

the answer from the I O C and again, I keep bringing up Dick Pound cuz he was such a prominent member of the i o and I know Dick pretty well, so he’s probably the most prominent member of the IOC ever who wasn’t elected president. But Dick said, look, it’s pasted the statute of limitations.

Now we can’t go back and do that and reverse it. However, you may have heard this summer, the I Ooc reversed itself on Jim Thorpe and declared him as the sole gold medalist in both the 1912 Pentathlon and Decathlon. So they, they did reverse themselves in that regard. And there’s another example.

This is very obscure, 1952 boxing. , they actually didn’t give bronze medals. They go, gave a golden silver to the boxers. And the losing semi-finalists, they gave no medals. And that was reversed in 1969. 17 years later, those athletes got their bronze medals. So, there is precedent for, going back many years to change things.

And certainly a lot of the swimmers, the, the biggest voice on this was always an American swimmer from the seventies named Shirley Bishoff, who won multiple medals in 76 and was the best swimmer in the world outside of East Germany. But what she won was silver medals all the time individually cuz she kept getting beaten by an East Germany.

She won one gold medal in a relay. and Bishoff was a big voice to try and, you know, get the East Germans disqualified. But that has not happened. There’s no asterisks, they’re still listed as the champions or whatever medal they won. ,

Jill: was there any inkling that the iron Curtain was going to fall within the next year or two or three?

Bill Mallon: Well, I am not a politician. In [00:35:00] fact, I hate politics. I’m 70 years old now, so I was either nine or 10 when the Berlin Wall went up in 61 or so. I’m not sure exactly what year it was. I never thought I’d see a reunified Germany in my lifetime. I remember watching, I, I remember exactly where I was.

It’s kind of like, you know where you were when Kennedy was shot or when the Challenger exploded. I, I remember exactly where I was watching on tv, seeing, seeing them knock down chunk, all the citizens taking sledgehammers with the Berlin Wall. I’m like, I, I, I can’t believe this is happening. . So at least to me, there was no inkling that that was gonna occur.

Somebody who’s well versed in politics may have had some inkling that Reagan and Gobi Schiff were doing glass nost and para stroka and all that. But it amazed me when it happened. I don’t know about you


Jill: but Oh yeah, it was, it was really surprising. I say we were, were you out of high school, Alison?

I was still in high

Alison: school, no, I was in college. I was sort of in that, you know, depending on which part of that story. Yeah, yeah. We’re talking about it was the transition.

Bill Mallon: Yeah. Well, I, I got outta college in 73, so I’m a little older than you guys,

Alison: but we were the, it’s funny that you mentioned Matti, cuz I’m laughing to myself.

Can, Jill and I were the perfect age to absolutely remember Matti. Yes. .

Jill: and why isn’t he remembered? Is it because those games were in Asia and the, the time difference or. One would think that he’d get the same kind of accolades.

Bill Mallon: Well, a couple things. There was no internet. there weren’t even very many computers in 88.

I had one, but not everybody had computers like they have now. Also Bet Matti was kind of a quiet guy. He, he didn’t seek out publicity. You know, mark Spitz I wouldn’t say Spitz was a publicity seeker, but when he did so well in at 72 in Munich he and he got into those games saying, I’m gonna win seven gold medals.

And he did it. And um beyond, he didn’t do that, but he still had an amazing Olympics. And you know, I think because he is so quiet there, there wasn’t as much media attention in those days on the swimmers maybe. But he should be remembered, I think.

Uh you Know, there’s one other thing that I should mention about Seoul 88 that we didn’t, we didn’t mention. There was a boycott in 88 too.

You know, there was the boycott in 80 in Moscow where the US didn’t go and they, persuaded a bunch of their friendly nations that are friendly to the US not to go. And actually about 60 nations did not compete in Moscow. And then in 84, the Soviet Union did not go, and they persuaded all the Soviet block countries and nations friendly to the Soviets, like Cuba not to go.

So there, that was about, there were about 17 nations, didn’t compete in 84, but there was a boycott in 88. It was the same. Thing that we talked about earlier with North Korea. A lot of countries didn’t recognize South Korea politically. The Soviet Union did not recognize South Korea. Now, the Soviet Union would never not compete in the Olympics UN unless it was in the US.

but North Korea did not compete. Cuba did not compete. Ethiopia did not compete. There were actually six nations that are listed as boycotting. Whether or not they did is always hard to say cuz they just say, we didn’t, we didn’t tend, but it did. And again, I’m, I’m talking about dick Pound the whole time here, but it led to dick pound’s greatest line ever because one of the nations that did not compete and it was considered to boycott was the SATs, you know, which is a small island off the coast of Africa.

And Dick Pound, when he heard about that said, The SATs. Hell, it’s only an island at low tide. Anyway, ,

Alison: we are fans of Dick Pound going rogue. So you can talk about Dick Pound to us anytime you want to ?

Bill Mallon: Yeah. I, I love Dick. And uh it’s too bad he, he wasn’t IOC president. He was an IOC president because, Samran kept giving him jobs to do to, sort of police the I ooc and he ended up pissing off too many members of the I ooc.

So they wouldn’t vote for him, but he should have been president.

Alison: What’s the legacy of, of Soul 1988?

Bill Mallon: Well, it, it did a couple things. It reversed the major boycotts, of 80 and 84, and even in 76 there had been a boycott in Montreal of African nations because of New Zealand competing in South Africa in rugby, which was not an Olympic sport at the time.

And it really brought all the world together for the first time at the Olympics since 1972 in Munich. That’s a long time. That’s 16 years. And it, the legacy also sort of just as Tokyo did in 1964, brought Japan onto the world stage. it sort of brought Korea onto the world stage. People heard about it and they realized, hey, this is a country that, you know, until recently had a dictatorship.

It’s now become much more democratic. And it’s again, part of the Asian economic miracle of the eighties that was occurring. And was becoming a prominent, I mean, look at the stuff we do now. I mean Samsung [00:40:00] and all sorts of cars and everything else from Korea, but it made the country prominent and put ’em on the world stage.

So I think those are the two biggest legacies of the games.

Alison: We would have No K-pop and no K Beauty .

Bill Mallon: That’s right.

I used to be able to do that. K-Pop dance. I did it. I remember doing it in London 2012 when it first came up.

Jill: if you could go there and be at it at Korea in 1988, what would you have wanted to see?

Bill Mallon: Well, my favorite sport to watch at the Olympics is always track cycling. Which always gets a, a reaction like Allison just did when she says, really?

Why track cycling? Well, my, I got interested in the Olympics because of cycling. I mentioned my father had been a diver. But it was just sort of an amateur dive. My, my father was a national caliber cyclist and speed skater, and I actually was a competitive cyclist very briefly in my youth. And uh track cycling is fascinating to watch.

It’s actually so much better to watch than road cycling. Cuz everything’s right in front of you in this little enclosed track. And you can see everything and it’s so fast. And, for the NASCAR fans, there’s lots of accidents and crashes and things like that, so, you know, people like that. But it’s a great sport.

I definitely would’ve watched track cycling. I probably would’ve gone to watch tennis. I, I love watching tennis. my favorite athlete in the world right now and probably my favorite athlete of all time is, is Raphael Nadal. And I got to see him in Rio in 2016. He wasn’t playing in 88 of course, but you know, I could have gone to see uh I think Chris ever played in 88.

So maybe I could have, although I’d seen Chris ever play back in the

Jill: seventies, wasn’t, didn’t Jeffy Graff win the goal?

Bill Mallon: Stephy Graff won and it was part of what’s called the Golden Slam. She won the Grand Slam of Tennis that year. Wimbledon, Australia, French, and the US Open and won the gold medal at the Olympics.

That’s the only time that’s ever been done in singles to win the Golden Slam.

Jill: Well, that will do it, bill. Thank you so much.

Okay I hope that was okay Thank you so much, bill. I s O h publishes the Journal of Olympic History, and you can find out more about

[00:42:11] TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shk

Jill: Faan. It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, keep the flame alive. These are past guests of the show who make up our country of Stan. Let’s look at some results from the end of last year.

Nordic Combined Athlete Anika Masinsky competed at Two World Cups in Ramsa, Austria in the first race. She finished 20th and the second she finished 21st and she walked away from the weekend with some World’s Cup points, which helps with overall season rankings. This weekend she will be competing in O Tepa Estonia.

Alison: And this weekend is a double dose of speed skating. We’ve got the US championships in both long track and short track, which means Ryan Shane will be competing at the short track in Utah, and Aaron Jackson will be competing at the long track in Milwaukee. If you want to watch any of these, you can look on our Facebook group because listeners are really good about finding where to take a look at these events.

Jill: In other news from Shook Latan bobsledder, Josh Williamson has been out with the groin injury. So get well sued, Josh. We hope to see you on the track soon. Claire

Alison: Eagan has been named an athlete ambassador for the Lake Placid 2023 F I S U World University Games .

Jill: So exciting. Congratulations to Olia ABA Solo of Chin Kova, who is starting a new job as senior Athlete Communications and digital activation manager at the International Olympic Committee.

So we have a Shk Liston on, well actually we have several Shk lists on the inside now ,

Alison: but I think Olea will, will give us some inside scoop, , and beach volleyball player, Kelly Chang was named AV P’S 2022 Offensive Player of the Year and M V P. Before we leave Shk Fon, we do have an announcement. Yes, we’ve got an official animal.

Jill: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. You all voted. we are looking for our official symbols for Clifton and the flower that you chose for us is the Flame Lilly. And now we have our mascot,

Alison: our official animal is the fox.

Jill: I’m excited to see what we can do with that.

Alison: I know, because now we’ve gotta come up with a name for this fox. It, it is a traditional symbol of fire in, in many cultures, which is, which is why and people liked it. It beat out the firefly and the salamander. . I voted for the Firefly cuz I thought that was awesome.

But it is the fox and I’m going to take it as a compliment of us.

Jill: That is very true. and . I will also, I will also take that as a compliment. That’s great. So, well we need a name for it, so if you have ideas let us know. You can ping us at flame life pod or go on the Facebook group cuz we will start another discussion [00:45:00] there.

[00:45:00] Paris 2024 Update

Alison: So I will take you back, okay. To a little conversation I had in Beijing, okay. With my friends from Paris, 2024 that I met on the mountain and who saved my life, so I can’t complain, but they promised me that transportation in Paris 2024 would be better than Beijing.

Jill: However, ,

Alison: they’re having some problems with that.

Jill: Oh, promises. Promises. So, Inside the games is reporting that Paris 10 20 24 cannot find any. A company who is willing to run their transportation system. So they are launching a second call for bids to run operations, and this is the transportation of athletes and accredited personnel that we’re looking at.

So it would be, media gets towed around, but, but athlete transportation is huge because how else are they going to get to their events efficiently? The sad thing. Nobody bid the first time around

Alison: within The call for bids there is a huge penalty if things get screwed up. So nobody wants to deal with that.

Oh, huge penalties. And it is an extremely complicated system. A lot of things can go wrong and you don’t wanna get yelled.

Jill: Right. And I, if there are huge penalties, if there’s a huge stick and you know that every, I mean, you can go back and look at every games and something goes wrong and, and there are a lot of things that are just like, oh, the first time it happens, we find the problem that we never thought of.

And a lot of stuff gets ironed out, but some basic overall structure. if that goes wrong, then it’s just, it’s just a rough time. But I, I can totally see a, oh, we’re gonna have to pay fines or have another penalty if we mess something up. What, what does that mean? So I, I can, maybe they have to revamp their bid.

Alison: We’ll see. We may be walking,

Jill: well, that,

Alison: that might be from Le from Paris to Le to Tahiti will be walking

Jill: thumb swimming. Can you still, can you still hitchhike in? In Europe safely,

We’ll find out, this is kind of exciting. Team Ireland is looking for a couple of volunteers for Paris 2024. They are looking for two volunteers to be appointed to Team Ireland as n o c assistance for the duration of the Olympics. And they will be based with the team in Paris throughout the games in 2024.

And there’s gonna be a couple of events in the lead up to the games as well that they’ll be involved in. what they’re looking for are people who can do administrative, linguistic, and operational support. and it’s a separate application from that, which is the Paris 2024 volunteer application.

But you’ll be part of that volunteer network that’s gonna be operated by the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee there. But the application is on Team Ireland’s website and. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

[00:48:04] Winter 2030 Update

Alison: We don’t

Jill: have Sounders for these. Oh yeah. So project for 2023 for us is getting sounds for the Winter Olympics 2030 and Brisbane 20 20 20. and Brisbane 2032 because we have news for both of those events.

There’s a new bid city for winter 2030. This is kind of exciting. Yeah.

Alison: So 2030 has now become the Olympic football. Where cities are dropping out, we don’t know if we’re gonna have host city. And now inside the games and games bid are rewarding that there is a push to put together a joint bid between valet Switzerland, Shamani France, and the ATA Valley of Italy.

Hmm. So it’s all one region in the Alps that all crosses each other. Sounds very cool. However, in the past, Swiss voters have rejected any attempts to make a bid,

Jill: which is always interesting that the home of the I O C headquarters does not want to. Host the games, although they did host the Youth Olympic Games, the the last Winter Edition.

So there’s some things that they’re willing to do, but uh, one would think that also spreading out the costs between three countries might be a little bit more palatable for the Swiss,

Alison: and then you would have the Winter Olympics back in Shamini, the birthplace of the Winter Olympics. Mm-hmm. . So I think that’s really cool and it does push that whole idea of a regional Olympic.

to a new level because now you’ve got three countries involved,

Jill: right? And, and the distance between them actually may not be that large. It’s not,

Alison: it’s very small. It’s a tight little region. If you look at it on a map I don’t know how easy it is to get around. That would probably be the biggest concern, is transportation.

Transportation around the, the areas, and you’ve got no big city. [00:50:00] Mm. Which also could be a concern. But on the flip side, if you kind of spread it all around, you can make a very interesting bit. So we’ll see what comes

Jill: of this and maybe Italy has another opportunity to spend money that they don’t have.

I can see this going. Would they have exhibit existing venues? I.

Alison: But this, here’s a couple of things that this would mean. This would mean we have no issue with sliding, cuz it’s San Marts, right? So you’ve got the sliding venue, which always seems to be the big question Mark Italy. We’ll see though Italy would then be back to back host.

Jill: I know, so that’s a question of is that something that the i O C wants or is that not going to be a concern this time around? Because we would have back-to-back in Europe, back to back winter games in Europe. And the problem with having a 2028 and 2030 in the US where Salt Lake is really the last bitter standing is, is sponsorship.

Issues and, and having two games in a row and, and the support that you have to give two games. Could Italy pull together this for two games in a row?

Because Salt

Alison: Lake really does not want it in 2030. They really want it for

Jill: 2034. As much as they say they are ready to go whenever the i o needs them, I will say this, they’re very diplomatic about that, but you can, you can see the kind of the. Issues in the background with, with how much money the games cost, just in general and needing to find some financing for that.

So will Italy, even though they would be like one third of the games, would that pose a problem for Italy in terms of having the money to do 2026 fully and part of 2030?

Alison: Good question. Can you, can you imagine the snacks on the media table at this thing?

Jill: Oh, just don’t expect a fondue pot. Okay.

[00:51:59] Brisbane 2032 Update

Alison: So Brisbane 2032 is also having some fun. This

Jill: is interesting. So, those of you who are our Aussie listeners, get ready for a change in broadcasters Sydnee. Morning Harold reported that Channel nine has outbid seven for the rights to host Brisbane 2032. Those two stations they co broadcast the games from Melbourne 1956 and since then, seven has been the primary broadcaster.

Channel nine had Vancouver 2010, London, 2012, and 20 and Sochi 2014. But it’s been pretty much seven all along. But now it’s going back to. So that will be interesting to see what happens in terms of your hosts and your commentators,

Alison: and they did not get the money. The I O C did not get the money they were hoping for out of

Jill: this.

No, they did not. And they were hoping for uh, Sydnee. Morning Herald said they were hoping for like 400 million for the Olympics because Paralympic rights are a separate discussion. And they got sources say they got between 200, 250 million for this.

Alison: That’s not gonna buy you too many kangaroos.

Jill: No, it will not. If you, if you weren’t looking for your personal kangaroo transportation, you will not find it. Oh, wouldn’t that be awesome? No. Kangaroos can be mean. They look nice. They can be mean. But

Alison: could you create like a little Kango mobile? Where you sit in the pouch and it keeps you cozy , not a real kangaroo, but like a mechanical kangaroo , and then you can hop and if there’s a lot of traffic you hop over,

Jill: it could be cool.

Could be very cool. I would go for that man. . Well, maybe you could bid for transportation rights,

Could you see? I mean, for France we just would have the Baguette Mobile and it’d be a long wait.

Alison: You could, you could just use the template of the, the Wiener mobile, the Oscar Meyer Hotdog Mobile. I mean, that is very close to the shape of a baguette. You just paint. And make it and you be all set. .

Jill: Super efficient transportation getting you around.

That’s what we’re gonna think it

Alison: up. You know they always talk about reusing and repurposing for the Olympics. See Ascal, Maya mobile is coming to France.

Jill: I can just see the French pk. What is this thing? Don’t let her in . That’s right. Alright, well that will do it for this week. Let us know what you remember from Soul and we will share it in a future episode. You

Alison: can get in touch with us by email at flame alive pod Call or text us at (208) 352-6348.

That’s 2 0 8 Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod and make your noon year’s resolution to join our Facebook group. It is Keep the Flame Alive Podcast

Jill: Group. Next week, we are continuing our historical groove by talking with Michael Payne, the first person to hold the position of director of marketing at the I O C.

If you enjoyed [00:55:00] last year’s conversations with George Hirthler and Terrence Burns, you are in for a treat with Michael. So if you haven’t listened to those episodes, catch up while you’re waiting. They are numbers 2 47, 2 57 and 2 58. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.