Politics finally took a back seat as all leading nations except Cuba and Ethiopia came together in Seoul.
Drug scandals were to overshadow the competition, particularly the athletics blue-riband event, the men's 100m.
Canadian Ben Johnson recorded a new world best of 9.79 secs and he stormed away from his arch-rival Carl Lewis.
But three days later it was revealed Johnson had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was disqualified.
Lewis took the gold while Johnson was banned from representing Canada again, although that suspension was later reduced to two years.
Florence Griffith-Joyner was the outstanding athlete at the Games, winning three golds and a silver, while also setting a new world record in the 200m.
Tennis regained its Olympic status after a 64-year absence with Steffi Graf beating Gabriela Sabatini in the women's final and Miloslav Mecir crowned as the men's champion.
Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in 1972 came under threat in the swimming events.
East German Kristin Otto won six golds, while American Matt Biondi won five golds, a silver and a bronze.