History of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal

Going for the Gold in Québec

Montreal, Olympic Park, the Olympic rings and the stadium dating from the Summer Olympics 1976
Montreal, Olympic Park, the Olympic rings and the stadium dating from the Summer Olympics 1976. RENAULT Philippe/hemis.fr/Getty Images

The 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada

The 1976 Olympic Games were marred by boycotts and drug allegations. Before the Olympic Games, New Zealand's rugby team toured South Africa (still mired in apartheid) and played against them. Because of this, much of the rest of Africa threatened the IOC to ban New Zealand from the Olympic Games or they would boycott the Games. Since the IOC had no control over the playing of rugby, the IOC tried to persuade the Africans not to use the Olympics as retaliation.

In the end, 26 African countries boycotted the Games.

Also, Taiwan was excluded from the Games when Canada would not recognize them as the Republic of China.

The drug allegations were rampant at these Olympics. Though most of the allegations were not proven, many athletes, especially the East German women swimmers, were accused of using anabolic steroids. When Shirley Babashoff (United States) accused her rivals of using anabolic steroids because of their big muscles and deep voices, an official from the East German team responded: "They came to swim, not to sing."*

The Games were also a financial disaster for Quebec. Since Quebec built, and built, and built for the Games, they spent the enormous figure of $2 billion, placing them in debt for decades.

On a more positive note, these Olympic Games saw the rise of the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci who won three gold medals.

Approximately 6,000 athletes participated, representing 88 countries.

* Allen Guttmann, The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992) 146.