|Nations participating 92|
Opening ceremony July 17
|Events 198 in 21 sports|
Closing ceremony August 1
|Host city Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
Athletes participating 6,084 (4,824 men, 1,260 women)
The 1976 Summer Olympics, officially called the Games of the XXI Olympiad (French: Les XXIes olympiques d'été), was an international multi-sport event in Montreal, Quebec, in 1976, and the first Olympic Games held in Canada. Montreal was awarded the rights to the 1976 Games on May 12, 1970, at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam, over the bids of Moscow and Los Angeles. It is so far the only Summer Olympic Games to be held in Canada. Calgary and Vancouver later hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 and 2010, respectively.
- Host city selection
- Cost and cost overrun
- Opening ceremony
- Montreal Olympic Park
- Venues in Greater Montreal
- Venues outside Montreal
- Medal count
- Participating National Olympic Committees
- Non participating National Olympic Committees
- Republic of China boycott
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.
Host city selection
The vote occurred on May 12, 1970, at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam, Netherlands. While Los Angeles and Moscow were viewed as the favorites given that they represented the world's two main powers, many of the smaller countries supported Montreal as an underdog and as a politically neutral site for the games. Los Angeles was eliminated after the first round and Montreal won in the second round. Moscow would go on to host the 1980 Summer Olympics and Los Angeles the 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 get the support of the Canadian Olympic Committee, which selected Montreal instead.
Robert Bourassa, then the Premier of Quebec, first 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. The leader of the Parti Québécois at the time, René Lévesque, sent his own letter to Buckingham Palace, asking the Queen to refuse her prime minister's request, though she did not oblige Lévesque as he was out of his jurisdiction in offering advice to the Sovereign.
Cost and cost overrun
The Oxford Olympics Study estimates the outturn cost of the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics at USD 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 USD 4.6 billion and a cost overrun of 51% for Rio 2016 and USD 15 billion and 76% for London 2012. Average cost for the Summer Games since 1960 is USD 5.2 billion, average cost overrun is 176%.
The opening ceremony of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games was held on Saturday, July 17, 1976, at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, in front of an audience of some 73,000 in the stadium, and an estimated half billion watching on television.
The ceremony marked the opening of the Games of the XXI Olympiad, the first Olympics held in Canada (Calgary would later host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, and Vancouver the 2010 Olympic Winter Games).
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 for many years later would be used in schools across the country as well as in the daily sign off of CBC’s broadcast.
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). 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. 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 1972 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 two 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.
Then, 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.
Montreal Olympic Park
Venues in Greater Montreal
Venues outside 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 23 February 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:
CalendarAll 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.
East Germany surpassed all expectations for a middle-sized nation by finishing 2nd. However, the GDR’s achievements were later fundamentally undermined by the expose 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.
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.
Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of athletes from each nation that competed at the Games.
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 because of economic reasons.
Republic of China boycott
An unrelated boycott of the Montreal Games was the name 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.
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 year 1976 was also when the Parti Québécois was first elected in Quebec, leading to new legislation to strengthen the legal status of the province's French-speaking majority; this also had the effect of driving migration of English speakers out of the province, especially to Ontario, whose capital city, Toronto, gained greater economic prominence as a result.
Montreal’s economy was also changing much like other industrial cities in the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River region of North America. In sum, numerous political, socio-cultural and economic changes affected the city at around the same time as the Olympics that would result in stalled growth and give the appearance of decline. That said, many of these factors existed prior to the Olympics and continued to have an effect on Montreal’s growth and relative importance many years afterwards. It’s not definitively proven that the Montreal Olympics played a specific role in that decline.
The relative benefits of the Olympics were defined differently to the Olympics of the 21st century, as was the method they were financed and presented to the public.
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.
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.
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.