Doves are a universal sign of peace and prosperity, which is why when they’re seen at the opening ceremonies of sports events – notably the Olympics – it insinuates support between countries and fair competition.
However, doves haven’t been seen at the Olympics since the summer of 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, due to a scarring incident.
On 17 September 1988, over 8,000 athletes entered the Seoul Olympic Stadium and spirits were high for the opening ceremony where everything was going smoothly.
The officially song of the Olympics – Hand in Hand – was also movingly sung as fans and organisers looked forward to a fine month of sport.
Everything was going fine and three doves were even released into the sky as the torch relay approached its end to signal the official start of the games.
As the last three torch runners made their way to the top of the torch to light up the massive cauldron, fans cheered for the traditional event.
However, there was a slight issue as, unbeknownst to the three athletes, the doves had made their way to the massive cauldron.
And viewers watching on television couldn’t help but notice the carnage unfolding.
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The three athletes, on their way up, hadn’t noticed and fans were hoping that by the time they reached the top, the doves flew away or, at the very least, flown away when the flames were ignited.
Neither happened, and the three athletes unknowingly set a few doves on fire on live television and in front of a capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium.
The cameraman operating the broadcast quickly turned away to a general view of the stadium to avoid showing any distressing images, but most could guess what had happened.
The death of the doves caused an uproar, and doves haven’t been seen at the opening ceremony since, with balloons or paper renditions taking its place instead.
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