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Montreal 1976 - Overview

Politics gate-crashes the Montreal Games

After surviving a boycott and the terror that engulfed Munich, the IOC hoped by awarding the Games to Montreal that all the sporting elements of the Olympic movement would be restored. This, in effect, was wishful thinking. The stadium and all other accompanying facilities were still under construction at the opening ceremony and the costs involved in staging the event provided ammunition for a hostile public and certain Canadian politicians. Delays, an increase in petrol prices due to the oil crisis, and other difficulties proved relevant stumbling blocks for Montreal.

A new IOC president, Ireland's Lord Killanin, was in place when a new cycle of boycotts kicked off. In total, 22 African delegations pulled out in protest of New Zealand's rugby tour of South Africa. Three days earlier, Taiwan pulled out because the Canadian government, which had been carrying out important negotiations with China, refused to recognize it as an independent nation.

Under tight police surveillance

Tight police and army security was put in place to guard against a second disaster when the 6,028 athletes from 92 countries gathered between July 17 and Aug. 1. The Games had already started when four countries -- Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia -- announced their plan to boycott Montreal after having already competed. This brought the final number of competing nations to 88.

As a mark of respect for the hostages killed in Munich four years earlier, the Israeli competitors wore a green feather.

Long-term profit

Doping controls were reinforced with 1,500 tests conducted. On the field of play, there were certain defining moments, but in all it was not regarded as an extraordinary Olympiad.

There were triumphs for Cuba's Alberto Juantorena (400m and 800m), Finland's Lasse Viren, who repeated his Munich wins in the 5,000 and 10,000m, and America's Bruce Jenner in the decathlon.

Sensational 14-year-old Romanian Nadia Comaneci also made a lasting impression with the first perfect scores of 10 awarded in gymnastics.

At the end, it was widely considered that the 21st Olympiad had been a relative success. However, disorganization and corruption led to the city of Montreal footing a somewhat unanticipated bill.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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