The 1976 Summer Olympics (French: Jeux olympiques d'été de 1976), officially known as the Games of the XXI Olympiad (French: Jeux de la XXIe Olympiade) and commonly known as Montréal 1976, were an international multi-sport event held from July 17 to August 1, 1976, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Montreal was awarded the rights to the 1976 Games at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam on May 12, 1970. Montreal is the second French speaking city to host the Summer Olympics after Paris, over the bids of Moscow and Los Angeles. It was the first and, so far, only Summer Olympic Games to be held in Canada. Toronto hosted the 1976 Summer Paralympics the same year as the Montreal Olympics, which still remains the only Summer Paralympics to be held in Canada. Calgary and Vancouver later hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 and 2010, respectively.
Twenty-nine countries, mostly African, boycotted the Montreal Games when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to ban New Zealand, after the New Zealand national rugby union team had toured South Africa earlier in 1976 in defiance of the United Nations' calls for a sporting embargo of the country. The Soviet Union won the most gold and overall medals.
Host city selection
The vote occurred at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam, Netherlands on May 12, 1970. While Los Angeles and Moscow were viewed as the favourites, given that they represented the world's two main powers, many of the smaller countries supported Montreal as an underdog and as a relatively neutral site for the games. Los Angeles was eliminated after the first round, and Montreal won in the second round. Moscow and Los Angeles would go on to the respective hosts of the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics. One blank vote was cast in the second and final round.
Toronto had made its third attempt for the Olympics, but failed to win the support of the Canadian Olympic Committee, who selected Montreal instead.
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Robert Bourassa, then the Premier of Quebec, asked Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to advise Canada's monarch Elizabeth II to attend the opening of the games. However, Bourassa later became unsettled about how unpopular the move might be with sovereigntists in the province, annoying Trudeau, who had already made arrangements. René Lévesque, the leader of the Parti Québécois at the time, sent his own letter to Buckingham Palace, asking the Queen to refuse her prime minister's request, but she did not oblige Lévesque as he was out of his jurisdiction in offering advice to the Sovereign.
In 1976, Trudeau, succumbing to pressure from the People's Republic of China, issued an order barring Taiwan from participating as "Republic of China" in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, although it was technically a matter for the IOC. The name "Taiwan" was initially offered, but the then nationalist government of Taiwan refused. His action strained relations with the United States – from President Ford to future President Carter and the press. Trudeau's action was widely condemned as having brought shame on Canada for having succumbed to political pressure to keep the Chinese delegation from competing under its name.
Cost and cost overrun
The Oxford Olympics Study estimates the outturn cost of the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics at US$6.1 billion in 2015-dollars and cost overrun at 720% in real terms. This includes sports-related costs only, that is, (i) operational costs incurred by the organizing committee for the purpose of staging the Games, e.g., expenditures for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and country or private investors to build, e.g., the competition venues, the Olympic village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the Games. Indirect capital costs are not included, such as for road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or for hotel upgrades or other business investment incurred in preparation for the Games but not directly related to staging the Games. The cost overrun for Montreal 1976 is the highest cost overrun on record for any Olympics. The cost and cost overrun for Montreal 1976 compares with costs of US$4.6 billion and a cost overrun of 51% for Rio 2016 and US$15 billion and 76% for London 2012. Average cost for the Summer Games from 1960 to 2016 is 5.2 billion 2015 US dollars, average cost overrun is 176%.
Much of the cost overruns were caused by the Conseil des métiers de la construction union, whose leader was André "Dede" Desjardins, and who kept the construction site in "anarchic disorder" as part of a shakedown. French architect Roger Taillibert, who designed the Olympic stadium, recounted in his 2000 book Notre Cher Stade Olympique that he and Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau tried hard to buy off Desjardins, even taking him to a lunch at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel in a vain attempt to end the "delays". Ultimately Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa made some sort of secret deal to buy off Desjardins, which finally allowed work to proceed. Taillibert wrote in Notre Cher Stade Olympique "If the Olympic Games took place, it was thanks to Dede Desjardins. What irony!"
Préfontaine and Henderson lighting the Olympic Flame
The opening ceremony of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games was held at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec on Saturday, July 17, 1976, in front of an audience of some 73,000 in the stadium and an estimated half billion watching on television.
Following an air show by the Canadian Forces Air Command's Snowbirds aerobatic flight demonstration squadron in the sunny skies above the stadium, the ceremony officially began at 3:00 pm with a trumpet fanfare and the arrival of Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada. The Queen was accompanied by Michael Morris, Lord Killanin, President of the International Olympic Committee, and was greeted to an orchestral rendition of 'O Canada', an arrangement that would be used for many years in schools across the country, as well as in the daily sign-off of TV broadcasts in the country.
The queen entered the Royal Box with her consort, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and her son, Prince Andrew. (Her daughter, Princess Anne, was an equestrian competitor for the team from Great Britain. Prince Philip was also president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) at the time of the 1976 Summer Olympics.) She joined a number of Canadian and Olympic dignitaries, including: Jules Léger, Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Gabrielle; Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and wife, Margaret; Robert Bourassa, Premier of the Province of Quebec; Roger Rousseau, chief of the Montreal Olympic Organizing Committee (COJO); Sheila Dunlop, Lady Killanin, wife of the IOC President; Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, and his wife, Marie-Claire.
The parade of athletes began moments later with the arrival of the Greek team, and concluded with the entrance of the Canadian team. All other teams entered the stadium according to French alphabetical order. The ceremony was marked by the adorning of Israel's flag with a black mourning ribbon, in memory of the eleven athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian terrorists at the previous Summer Olympic Games in Munich four years earlier. Although most would eventually boycott the Games in the days to follow, a number of African delegations did march in the parade. Much of the music performed for the parade was arranged by Vic Vogel and was inspired by late Quebec composer André Mathieu.
Immediately following the parade, a troupe of 80 women dancers dressed in white (representing the 80th anniversary of the revival of the Olympic Games) performed a brief dance in the outline of the Olympic rings. Following that came the official speeches, first by Roger Rousseau, head of the Montreal Olympic organizing committee, and Lord Killanin. Her Majesty was then invited to proclaim the Games open, which she did, first in French, then in English.
Accompanied by the Olympic Hymn, the Olympic flag was carried into the stadium and hoisted at the west end of the stadium. The flag was carried by eight men and hoisted by four women, representing the ten provinces and two territories (at the time) of Canada. As the flag was hoisted, an all-male choir performed an a cappella version of the Olympic Hymn.
Once the flag was unfurled, a troupe of Bavarian dancers representing Munich, host of the previous Summer Olympics, entered the stadium with the Antwerp flag. Following a brief dance, that flag was then passed from the Mayor of Munich to the IOC President and then to the Mayor of Montreal. Next came a presentation of traditional Québécois folk dancers. The two troupes merged in dance together to the strains of "Vive le Compagnie" and exited the stadium with the Antwerp Flag, which would be displayed at Montreal City Hall until the opening of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Three cannons were then fired, as the 80-member troupe of female dancers unfolded special crates that released doves and ribbons in the five Olympic colours.
Another trumpet fanfare announced the arrival of the Olympic Flame. The torch was carried by 15-year-olds Stéphane Préfontaine and Sandra Henderson, chosen as representatives of the unity within Canada's linguistic heritage. This would also be the first time two people would light the Olympic flame, and Henderson would become only the second woman to do the honours. The duo would make a lap of the stadium and then climbed a staircase on a special dais at the center of the stadium to set the Olympic flame alight in a temporary white aluminum cauldron. The flame was later transported to a more permanent cauldron just outside the running track to burn throughout the duration of the Games. A choir then performed the Olympic Cantata as onlookers admired the Olympic flame.
The "Youth of Canada" took to the track to perform a colourful choreographed segment with flags, ribbons and a variety of rhythmic gymnast performers. The flag bearers of each team then circled around the speaker's dais as Pierre St-Jean recited the Athletes' Oath and Maurice Forget recited the Judges' Oath, in English and in French, with right hand over the heart and the Canadian flag clutched in the left. Finally, a choral performance of "O Canada" in both French and English marked the close of the opening ceremony, as the announcers concluded with a declaration of 'Vive les Jeux de Montreal! Long Live the Montreal Games'.
The Montreal ceremony would be the last of its kind, as future Olympic ceremonies, beginning with the 1980 Moscow Games, would become more focused on theatrical, cultural and artistic presentations and less on formality and protocol.
- These Olympics were the first of two summer games to be organized under the IOC presidency of Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin.
- Taro Aso was a member of the Japanese shooting team. 32 years later, he would be elected as the prime minister of Japan.
- The Games were opened by Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, and several members of the Royal Family attended the opening ceremonies. This was particularly significant, as these were the first Olympic games hosted on Canadian soil. The Queen's daughter, Princess Anne, also competed in the games as part of the British riding team. Additionally, the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, was President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) at the time.
- After a rainstorm doused the Olympic Flame a few days after the games had opened, an official relit the flame using his cigarette lighter. Organizers quickly doused it again and relit it using a backup of the original flame.
- The Israeli team walked into the stadium at the opening ceremony wearing black ribbons in commemoration of the 1972 Munich massacre.
- Women's events were introduced in basketball, handball and rowing.
- Canada, the host country, finished with five silver and six bronze medals. This was the first time that the host country of the Summer Games had not won any gold medals. This feat had occurred previously only in the Winter Games – 1924 in Chamonix, France, and 1928 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. This later occurred at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and again at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
- Because of the Munich massacre, security at these games was visible, as it had been earlier in the year at the Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
- At age 14, gymnast Nadia Comăneci of Romania became the first person to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics, recording seven 10.00 scores and winning three gold medals, including the all-around. The scoreboard could hold only 3 digits and the score was shown as 1.00.
- Alberto Juantorena of Cuba became the first man to win both the 400 m and 800 m at the same Olympics.
- Finland's Lasse Virén repeated his 1972 double win in the 5,000 and 10,000 m runs, the first runner to successfully defend a 5,000 m win (since equalled by Britain's Mo Farah in 2016). Virén finished 5th in the marathon, thereby failing to equal Emil Zátopek's 1952 achievements.
- Hasely Crawford won Trinidad and Tobago's first Olympic gold medal by finishing first in the 100 metres.
- Viktor Saneyev of the Soviet Union won his third consecutive triple jump gold medal, while Klaus Dibiasi of Italy did the same in the platform diving event.
- Boris Onishchenko, a member of the Soviet Union's modern pentathlon team, was disqualified after it was discovered that he had rigged his épée to register a hit when there wasn't one. Because of this, the Soviet modern pentathlon team was disqualified. Due to his disqualification, it was suggested that he earned the nickname of "Boris DISonish-chenko". However, many assumed that he was a victim of a Soviet "win it all" mentality.
- Five American boxers – Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr. won gold medals in boxing. This has been often called the greatest Olympic boxing team the United States ever had, and, out of the five American gold medalists in boxing, all but Davis went on to become professional world champions.
- Princess Anne of the United Kingdom was the only female competitor not to have to submit to a sex test. She was a member of her country's equestrian team.
- Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto performed on a broken right knee, and helped the Japanese team win the gold medal for the team championship. Fujimoto broke his leg on the floor exercise, and due to the closeness in the overall standings with the USSR, he hid the extent of the injury. With a broken knee, Fujimoto was able to complete his event on the rings, performing a perfect triple somersault dismount, maintaining perfect posture. He scored a 9.7 thus securing gold for Japan. Years later, when asked if he would do it again, he stated bluntly "No, I would not."
- The U.S. men's swimming team won all but one gold medal. John Naber won four gold medals and a silver medal.
- In winning the gold medal for the men's 100m freestyle, Jim Montgomery became the first person to break the 50 second mark in the event, taking first place in the final in a time of 49.99.
- For the first time ever, a woman won an Olympic medal in shooting: Margaret Murdock caught the silver in the three positions event. Lanny Bassham and Murdock tied for the first place, but Murdock was placed second after review of the targets. Bassham suggested that two gold medals be given, and after this request was declined, asked Murdock to share the top step with him at the award ceremony. Women had no separate shooting events at the time and were allowed to compete with men.
- Luann Ryon won the women's Archery gold for the USA; Ryon had never before competed at the international level.
- Caitlyn Jenner (awarded as Bruce Jenner) won the gold medal for decathlon, setting a world record of 8,634 points.
- Alex Oakley, the Canadian race walker, became the oldest track and field athlete to compete at the Olympic Games. He was aged 50, and taking part in his fifth Olympics.
- The New Zealand men's national field hockey team beat Australia to win gold, becoming the first non-Asian/European team to win the gold medal in hockey. It is also the first Olympic games in which hockey was played on artificial turf.
- The Polish men's volleyball team came back from being down 2 sets against the USSR to win the gold medal.
- Twenty-year-old Morehouse College student Edwin Moses set a new world record in the 400m hurdles, less than a year after taking up the event. He is also America's only male individual track gold medalist.
- Thomas Bach of West Germany won a gold medal in the team foil event in fencing. He would later become IOC President.
- Heavyweight boxer Clarence Hill won a bronze medal for Bermuda. His accomplishment makes Bermuda the smallest nation in terms of population to win an Olympic medal at the Summer Olympics.
- East Germany surpassed all expectations for a middle-sized nation by finishing with the second most gold medals in total. The East German women's swimming team won all but two gold medals. Swimmer Kornelia Ender won four gold medals and a silver medal. However, the GDR's achievements were later fundamentally undermined by the exposure of a serious and systematic scheme of doping by the East German sporting authorities. It was later revealed that after injecting athletes with performance-boosting drugs at the Montreal Olympics, East German officials dumped the leftover serum and syringes in the Saint Lawrence River.
The Olympic Village in January 2008.
Montreal Olympic Park
Venues in Greater Montreal
- Olympic Basin, Île Notre-Dame – canoeing, rowing
- Claude Robillard Centre – handball, water polo
- Centre Étienne Desmarteau – basketball
- St. Michel Arena – weightlifting
- Paul Sauvé Centre – volleyball
- Montreal Forum – basketball (finals), boxing (finals), gymnastics, handball (finals), volleyball (finals)
- Mount Royal Park – cycling (individual road race)
- Quebec Autoroute 40 – cycling (road team time trial)
- streets of Montreal – athletics (marathon)
- Winter Stadium, Université de Montréal – fencing, modern pentathlon (fencing)
- Molson Stadium, McGill University – field hockey
Venues outside Montreal
- Olympic Shooting Range, L'Acadie – modern pentathlon (shooting), shooting
- Olympic Archery Field, Joliette – archery
- Olympic Equestrian Centre, Bromont – equestrian (all but jumping team), modern pentathlon (riding)
- Pavilion de l'éducation physique et des sports de l'Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec – handball preliminaries
- Sherbrooke Stadium, Sherbrooke, Quebec – football preliminaries
- Sherbrooke Sports Palace, Sherbrooke, Quebec – handball preliminaries
- Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, Ontario – sailing
- Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Ontario – football preliminaries
- Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, Ontario – football preliminaries
Velodrome (foreground) and Olympic Stadium (its tower completed after the Games), Montreal
There was a desire by the IOC's program commission to reduce the number of competitors and a number of recommendations were put to the IOC's executive board on February 23, 1973, which were all accepted. Rowing was the only sport where the number of competitors was increased, and women were admitted for the first time in Olympic history. The 1976 Summer Olympic programme featured 196 events with 198 medal ceremonies in the following 21 sports:
Participating National Olympic Committees
Four nations made their first Summer Olympic appearance in Montreal: Andorra (which had its overall Olympic debut a few months before in Innsbruck Winter Olympics), Antigua and Barbuda (as Antigua), Cayman Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
|Participating National Olympic Committees
^ WD: Athletes from Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia competed on July 18–20 before these nations withdrew from the Games.
^ Note: Athletes from Guyana, Mali and Swaziland also took part in the Opening Ceremony, but later joined the Congolese-led boycott and withdrew from all competitions.
- All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1976 Games. Canada placed 27th with only 11 medals in total, none of them being gold. Canada remains the only host nation of a Summer Olympics that did not win at least one gold medal in its own games. It also did not win any gold medals at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. However, Canada went on to win the most gold medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Games were dominated by the Eastern Bloc, with the USSR occupying the top spot in the medal standings.
Non-participating National Olympic Committees
Twenty-nine countries boycotted the Games due to the refusal of the IOC to ban New Zealand, after the New Zealand national rugby union team had toured South Africa earlier in 1976. The boycott was led by Congolese official Jean-Claude Ganga. Some of the boycotting nations (including Morocco, Cameroon and Egypt) had already participated, however, and withdrew after the first few days. Senegal and Ivory Coast were the only African countries that competed throughout the duration of the Games. Elsewhere, both Iraq and Guyana also opted to join the Congolese-led boycott. South Africa had been banned from the Olympics since 1964 due to its apartheid policies. Other countries, such as El Salvador and Zaire, did not participate in Montreal for purely economic reasons.
Countries boycotting the 1976 Games are shaded blue
Republic of China boycott
An unrelated boycott of the Montreal Games was the main issue between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People's Republic of China (PRC). The ROC team withdrew from the games when Canada's Liberal government under Pierre Trudeau told it that the name "Republic of China" was not permissible at the Games because Canada had officially recognized the PRC in 1970. Canada attempted a compromise by allowing the ROC the continued use of its national flag and anthem in the Montreal Olympic activities; the ROC refused. Later in November 1976, the IOC recognized the PRC as the only recognized name of any Olympic activities representative of any Chinese government. In 1979 the IOC established in the Nagoya Resolution that the PRC agreed to participate in IOC activities if the Republic of China was referred to as "Chinese Taipei". Another boycott would occur before the ROC would accept the provisions of the 1979 Resolution although the reason that so many other countries boycotted were not all the same as the ROC.
Both East Germany and West Germany encouraged and covered up a culture of doping across many sports for decades. Doping of German athletes was prevalent at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
The legacy of the Montreal Olympics is complex. Many citizens regard the Olympiad as a financial disaster for the city as it faced debts for 30 years after the Games had finished. The retractable roof of the Olympic Stadium never properly worked and on several occasions has torn, prompting the stadium to be closed for extended periods of time for repairs. The failure of the Montreal Expos baseball club is largely blamed on the failure of the Olympic Stadium to transition into an effective and popular venue for the club – given the massive capacity of the stadium, it often looked unimpressive even with regular crowds in excess of 20,000 spectators.
The Quebec provincial government took over construction when it became evident in 1975 that work had fallen far behind schedule. Work was still ongoing just weeks before the opening date, and the tower was not built. Mayor Jean Drapeau had confidently predicted in 1970 that "the Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby", but the debt racked up to a billion dollars that the Quebec government mandated the city pay in full. This would prompt cartoonist Aislin to draw a pregnant Drapeau on the telephone saying, "Allo, Morgentaler?" in reference to a Montreal abortion provider.
The Olympic Stadium was designed by French architect Roger Taillibert. It is often nicknamed "The Big O" as a reference to both its name and to the doughnut-shape of the permanent component of the stadium's roof, though "The Big Owe" has been used to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole. It has never had an effective retractable roof, and the tower (called the Montreal Tower) was completed only after the Olympic Games were over. In December 2006 the stadium's costs were finally paid in full. The total expenditure (including repairs, renovations, construction, interest, and inflation) amounted to C$1.61 billion. Today the stadium lacks a permanent tenant, as the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Expos have moved, though it does host some individual games of the Alouettes as well as the Montreal Impact.
One of the streets surrounding the Olympic Stadium was renamed to honor Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Olympics.
Forty-five years on, New Zealand's causing the boycott of the Olympics by the 29 mostly African nations remains a source of deep national shame in the country, especially as its own African community grows. The boycott by African nations over the inclusion of New Zealand, whose rugby team had played in South Africa that year, was a contributing factor in the massive protests and civil disobedience that occurred during the 1981 Springbok Tour of New Zealand. Official sporting contacts between South Africa and New Zealand did not occur again until after the fall of apartheid. New Zealand Prime Minister at the time, Robert Muldoon, who gave his blessing for New Zealand to play with the blatantly white supremacist state, has had his reputation significantly tarnished by his decisions.
Australia's failure to win a gold medal led the country to create the Australian Institute of Sport.
In 2016, the 40th anniversary celebrations were held. In conjunction with the celebrations, the 2016 Quebec Games were held.
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- National Film Board of Canada, Games of the XXI Olympiad (118 minute film), Jacques Bobet, producer (may not be available outside Canada).
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- ^ This has often been reported as fact as early as 1977, but never verified by the Olympics authorities. For example, see Young, Dick (1977). THE BARBIE DOLL SOAP OPERA. New York Daily News. reprinted in Best Sports Stories 1977. p. 47. ISBN 9780525066231. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
I have it on the strongest authority that Princess Anne did not have to submit to a sex test to compete in the Olympic Equestrian events.
- ^ "Fujimoto caps Japanese success", BBC, September 29, 2000
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