If the 1988 Olympics in Seoul turn out even remotely close to what was forecast last night at the South Korean ambassador's home, the Games will be a rousing success.
U.S. Olympic Committee officials praised Seoul's facilities and Ambassador Kyung-Won Kim predicted the '88 Games would be "the best in history" during a fund-raiser for American athletes at the ambassador's Spring Valley residence. The gathering, which included area politicians and former Olympic athletes, coincided with what is expected to become a significant date in Korean history -- the Games are scheduled to begin a year from today.
Today also marks the extending of invitations to all nations, with 167 expected to participate. The resumption of competition between the U.S. and Soviet Union after 12 years, Kim said, will contribute to making these Olympics "complete" ones.
The facilities, many of which were tested during last year's Asian Games, and an unprecedented worldwide television audience also will help put these Games, Kim said, on an unprecedented "scale."
Certain that bigger will be better, Kim noted that the Asian Games had gone off "without a hitch."
John Krimsky, deputy secretary general of the USOC, said that Seoul was ready with "the finest set of venues in the history of the Games . . . Olympic facilities that have never been equaled anywhere in the world."
Today also is the day that North Korea was supposed to decide whether or not it will host some events. The International Olympic Committee has offered North Korea archery, table tennis, women's volleyball, some cycling and a preliminary soccer round. To hold these events, North Korea would have to open its border to Olympic competitors and support groups, journalists and thousands of spectators.
Word among U.S. Olympic officials was that probably no answer will be forthcoming today from North Korea, that for now the IOC will keep open the possibility, but that in all likelihood North Korea is not prepared to host anything.
Last night was South Korea's show entirely. David B. Abramson, chairman of the District Olympic committee, presented Kim with a U.S. Olympic jacket. Kim slipped it on and wondered, with a laugh, if the jacket had been made in Korea.