1976 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city Montréal, Canada (Venues)
Opening ceremony 17 July
Closing ceremony 1 August
Competition dates 18 July – 1 August
OCOG Montreal Olympic Organizing Committee
Participants 6073 from 92 countries
Medal events 198 in 26 disciplines

Overview

After the boycotts and the massacre of München, the IOC hoped for an Olympic revival at Montréal in 1976, but the city of Montréal spent extravagantly to host the Games, leaving the citizens of Canada and Québec with a tax debt they would be repaying for years. Many of the structures planned for the Games were not finished on time or came in well over estimates, and several of them, notably the elaborate, though beautiful, velodrome, proved to be white elephants that would be of little use after the Olympics. The Games were dubbed the billion-dollar circus by the Canadian press. Mayor Jean Drapeau’s efforts in hosting the Olympic were not appreciated by the Canadian citizenry.

Then shortly before the Games were to start they were marred by a boycott of 22 African countries, Guyana, and Chinese Taipei (then Taiwan). The African/Guyanan boycott was in protest of a recent tour of South Africa by the New Zealand national rugby side, almost mockingly (although unrelatedly) named the All-Blacks. As South Africa was ostracized from international sporting competition, the African nations demanded New Zealand not be allowed to compete at Montréal. But the IOC had little control over this problem, as rugby had no current affiliation with the Olympic Movement. New Zealand competed and most of Africa did not.

Twenty-six nations eventually boycotted the Montréal Olympics. Twenty-two of these did not compete at all and are as follows: Algeria, Central Africa, Chad, People’s Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Upper Volta, and Zambia. In addition, four nations, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, also boycotted, but a few of their athletes competed prior to their withdrawal and boycott.

James Gilkes of Guyana was a top sprinter and petitioned to compete as an individual after his nation withdrew, but he was not allowed to compete. The IOC refused this request stating that there was no allowance for this in the Olympic Charter. The IOC had always proclaimed that the Olympics are for individuals, not for nations, but in 1992, the IOC would later allow independents to compete, when Yugoslavian athletes, ostracized by the United Nations because of their nation’s civil war, competed as Independent Olympic Participants (IOP). This occurred several more times in the 21st century and in 2016, the IOC even sponsored formation of a Refugee Olympic Team.

The Taiwanese boycott occurred when Canada at first refused to allow them to enter the country, as the Canadian government did not recognize the island nation. The Canadians acquiesced and allowed the Taiwanese to compete, but refused to allow them to do so under the title of the Republic of China, their official national name. Several other countries protested and threatened withdrawal, notably the United States, if the Taiwanese athletes were not allowed to compete. However, these protests were short-lived and Taiwan watched the Olympics from afar, if at all.

After all this the Olympics began. Despite the absence of some top African track athletes, they were well-run and the boycotts had minimal effect on competition. Track & field saw the diminution of its featured event, the 1,500 metres, in which John Walker (ironically of New Zealand) and Filbert Bayi (Tanzania) were to compete. They were the two best milers in the world by far, but Walker had only himself to beat, and he managed a comfortable gold medal victory. The most spectacular athlete on the track was Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena who won both the 400 and 800 metres. The gymnastics competition saw the Olympic début of Romania’s Nadia Comăneci, who was awarded seven perfect 10s for her performances in the gym. She won five medals and three gold medals, dominating the competition.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 70th IOC Session in Amsterdam on 13 May 1970.

Round 1 Round 2
Montréal, Québec Canada 25 41
Moscow Soviet Union 28 28
Los Angeles, California United States 17

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom (Queen)
Torchbearer(s) Stéphane Préfontaine (Lit flame), Sandra Henderson (Lit flame)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Pierre St. Jean
Taker of the Official's Oath Maurice Fauget
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Eight unknown male athletes, Four unknown female athletes

Medal Disciplines

Archery Equestrian Dressage Rowing
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Eventing Sailing
Athletics Equestrian Jumping Shooting
Basketball Fencing Swimming
Boxing Football Volleyball
Canoe Sprint Handball Water Polo
Cycling Road Hockey Weightlifting
Cycling Track Judo Wrestling
Diving Modern Pentathlon

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 49 41 35 125
East Germany GDR 40 25 25 90
United States USA 34 35 25 94
West Germany FRG 10 12 17 39
Japan JPN 9 6 10 25
Poland POL 7 6 13 26
Bulgaria BUL 6 9 7 22
Cuba CUB 6 4 3 13
Romania ROU 4 9 14 27
Hungary HUN 4 5 13 22
Finland FIN 4 2 0 6
Sweden SWE 4 1 0 5
Great Britain GBR 3 5 5 13
Italy ITA 2 7 4 13
France FRA 2 3 4 9
Yugoslavia YUG 2 3 3 8
Czechoslovakia TCH 2 2 4 8
New Zealand NZL 2 1 1 4
Republic of Korea KOR 1 1 4 6
Switzerland SUI 1 1 2 4
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 1 1 0 2
Jamaica JAM 1 1 0 2
Norway NOR 1 1 0 2
Denmark DEN 1 0 2 3
Mexico MEX 1 0 1 2
Trinidad and Tobago TTO 1 0 0 1
Canada CAN 0 5 6 11
Belgium BEL 0 3 3 6
Netherlands NED 0 2 3 5
Portugal POR 0 2 0 2
Spain ESP 0 2 0 2
Australia AUS 0 1 4 5
Islamic Republic of Iran IRI 0 1 1 2
Mongolia MGL 0 1 0 1
Venezuela VEN 0 1 0 1
Brazil BRA 0 0 2 2
Austria AUT 0 0 1 1
Bermuda BER 0 0 1 1
Pakistan PAK 0 0 1 1
Puerto Rico PUR 0 0 1 1
Thailand THA 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Nikolay Andrianov URS 4 2 1 7
Kornelia Ender GDR 4 1 0 5
John Naber USA 4 1 0 5
Nadia Comăneci ROU 3 1 1 5
Nelli Kim URS 3 1 0 4
Jim Montgomery USA 3 0 1 4
Ulrike Richter GDR 3 0 0 3
Andrea Pollack GDR 2 2 0 4
Mitsuo Tsukahara JPN 2 1 2 5
Sawao Kato JPN 2 1 0 3
John Hencken USA 2 1 0 3

All medalists at these Games