Fidel Castro’s 88 Olympic Withdrawal Letter to International Olympic Committee (Pre-88Olympic / 1976-1986)

Fidel Castro’s letter to IOC for Cuba’s withdrawal from the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic was revealed in the New York Times on January 16th, 1988. The official statement outlines Cuba’s disapproval of South Korea as a hosting country due to the heated protests and military oppression. The letter left open the door for a change of heart if the safety of Cuban athletes was guaranteed and North Korea was named the co-host country for the scheduled 88 Seoul Olympic. Concern for athlete teams’ safety was an issue raised after the 1972 Munich Massacre; the Soviet Union recalled its team from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics for this reason. Geopolitical contentions before the last Summer Olympic of the Cold War were one cause, but the reason behind Castro’s letter can be attributed to foreign countries’ growing disapproval of the military regime, the excessive exploitations accompanying modernization, and social unrests that go against Castro’s values.


Castro, Fidel. “Letter from Fidel Castro the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch.” Wilson Center Digital Archive. Last modified January 13, 1988.

Janofsky, Michael. “Winter Olympics; Cuban Discusses Decision On Seoul.” New York Times, February 11, 1988, Section B Pg.11.

Phillips, Angus. “Cuba Declines To Participate In Summer Olympic Games.” Washington Post, January 16, 1988.

“Letter From International Olympic Committee (Ioc) President Juan Antonio Samaranch To Fidel Castro.” Wilson Center Digital Archive. Last modified December 4, 1984.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.