Canadian History for Kids!
1976, July 17 – Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the Montréal Olympic Games.
This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks at the the Montreal Olympics.
The Opening Ceremony of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games was held on Saturday, July 17, 1976 at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of Canada, looks at the ’76 summer olympics.
This Canadian History for Kids article begins in front of an audience of some 73,000 in the stadium, and an estimated half billion watching on television, when Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic games. Following an air show by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds flying squad in the sunny skies above the stadium, the ceremony officially began at 3:00 pm with a trumpet fanfare and the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II . 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.
However, this Canadian History for Kids article also notes how the 1976 Olympic Games were stained by boycotts and drug allegations. Before the Olympic Games, New Zealand’s rugby team toured South Africa (still caught up in apartheid) and played against them. Because of this, much of the rest of Africa threatened the International Olympic Committee (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.
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.”
This Canadian History for Kids article continues with how 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.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues on a more positive note because 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.
A Canadian History for Kids fact is that a record number 414 athletes participate for Canada, and Canadians came up with their best medal performance to date. The 11 medals won by Canadian athletes more than double the total of the previous two Olympic games.
The five silver medals – highlighted by Greg Joy in the high jump competition – equal the total won by Canadian athletes in 1932. Nancy Garapick became the only double medalist for Canada, winning two bronze in the 100 metere and 200 metre backstroke.
Unfortunately, the Montreal Olympics also marked the first time that an athlete from the host nation failed to win a gold medal.
And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!