1976 - Montreal

Budget overruns, corruption, boycotts, drugs

The 1976 Montreal Olympics, which initially had a $300 million budget, ended up with a staggering $1.5 billion deficit, mainly due to poor planning and corruption. It saddled the Canadian city with a debt that is not due to be paid off until 2006. To make matters even worse, the Olympic Stadium was not completed on time.

It seems these Games were cursed because on the eve of the opening ceremony Tanzania dictator Julius Nyerere called for a boycott as New Zealand's rugby team had toured South Africa, banned from the Olympics because of its apartheid policies.

Even though rugby union was not part of the Olympic movement any more, 22 African countries heeded the call for a boycott. Particularly badly hit were middle and long distance runners from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania who were denied the opportunity to compete in events they were expected to dominate.

For all the financial and political problems the Games were well organised and featured a number of memorable moments. These included Romania's Nadia Comaneci becoming the first gymnast to score a perfect 10. She ended the Olympics with three gold medals, one silver and a bronze.

In the swimming pool the East German women won a remarkable 11 of the 13 events - having failed to win a single gold medal in the Munich Olympics just four years earlier. But secret Stasi files discovered after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 revealed that every single one of the swimmers was part of a state-sponsored doping programme, leading to calls for the IOC to amend the results, which they have refused to do.

To compound its poor reputation, the stadium has continued to have seemingly endless structural problems, including a retractable roof that never worked and beams that occasionally shed hunks of concrete. In 2003 it lost its last major tenant, the Montreal Expos baseball team, and the venue is now used principally for trade shows.

Date Games held: July 17-August 1

Number of nations represented: 92

Number of competitors: 6,024 (1,246 women)

Number of medal events: 198

comments powered by Disqus