1976 Montreal, Canada

The 1976 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXI Olympiad, was celebrated in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1976. 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, which later hosted the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games respectively. These were the first Olympic Games held in Canada, preceding the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The vote occurred on May 12, 1970, at the 69th IOC Session in Amsterdam, Netherlands. One blank vote was cast in the second and final round. One factor favoring Montreal was that the IOC did not want the Summer games hosted in a superpower for fears of political backlash, which would be proven later on in the Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984.

Highlights of the Montreal Olympics

At age 14, gymnast Nadia Comăneci of Romania scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals, including the prestigious All-Around. The score board could hold only 3 digits and the score was shown as 1.00. In women’s gymnastics three gold medals were also won by Nellie Kim of the Soviet Union. Nikolai Andrianov of the USSR won four gold medals, including All Around, in men’s gymnastics.

ñTaro Aso was a member of the Japanese shooting team. 32 years later, he would be elected as the prime minister of Japan.

ñThe Games were opened by Elizabeth II, as head of state of Canada, and several members of the Royal Family attended the opening ceremonies. The Queen’s daughter, The Princess Anne, competed in the games as part of the British riding team.

ñThe Olympic Flame was “electronically” transmitted via satellite from Athens to Ottawa, by means of an electronic pulse derived from the actual burning flame. From Ottawa, it was carried by hand to Montreal. 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.

ñWhen the Israeli team walked into the stadium at the Opening Ceremonies, their national flag was adorned with a black ribbon in commemoration of the 1972 Munich massacre.

ñWomen’s events were introduced in basketball, handball and rowing.

ñCanada, the host country, finished with five silver and six bronze medals. This was the first time that the host country of the Summer Games won no gold medals. This feat had occurred previously only in the Winter Games – 1924 inChamonix, 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, Canada. Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first gold medal on home soil in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as he won the men’s moguls event.

ñThe Republic of China (Taiwan) team withdrew after Canada’s Liberal government, under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, informed it that it could not compete under the name “Republic of China”. This was done because Canada officially recognized the People’s Republic of China. Canada did try to compromise by saying that the people of the Republic of China could retain their national flag and anthem, but they refused. This would lead to 1979’s Nagoya Resolution, where the People’s Republic and Taiwan agreed that Taiwan would compete in the Olympics and other international sporting events as Chinese Taipei with a custom flag.

ñIn protest at a tour of South Africa by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team early in the year, Congo’s official Jean Claude Ganga led a boycott of 28 African nations as the IOC refused to bar the New Zealand team. Some of the nations (including Morocco, Cameroon and Egypt) had already participated, however, as the teams withdrew only after the first day. From Southern and Central Africa, only Senegal and Ivory Coast took part. Both Iraq and Guyana also opted to join the Congolese-led boycott.

ñBecause 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.

ñViktor 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.

ñAlberto Juantorena of Cuba became the first man to win both the 400 m and 800 m at the same Olympics. Finland’s Lasse Virén also achieved a double in the 5000 and 10,000 m and finished 5th in the marathon, thereby failing to equal Emil Zátopek’s 1952 achievements.

ñBoris 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 USSR modern pentathlon team was disqualified. Onischenko earned the enmity of other Soviet Olympic team members: for example, USSR volleyball team members threatened to throw him out of the hotel’s window if they met him. Due to his disqualification, it was suggested that he earned the nickname of “Boris DISonish-chenko”.

ñFive 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.

ñPrincess 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.

ñJapanese 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.”

ñThe East German women’s swimming team won all but two gold medals.

ñThe U.S. men’s swimming team won all but one gold medal.

ñLuann Ryon won the women’s Archery gold for the USA; Ryon had never before competed at the international level.

ñU.S. track and field athlete Bruce Jenner won the gold medal for decathlon, setting a world record of 8,634 points.

ñAlex 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.

ñThe New Zealand Black Sticks Men Hockey team beat Australia to win gold, becoming the first non-Asian/European team to win the gold medal in hockey

Three nations made their first Summer Olympic appearance in Montreal: Andorra (which had had its overall Olympic debut a few months before in Innsbruck Winter Olympics), Antigua and Barbuda, Cayman Islands, and Papua New Guinea.