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Montreal Olympics: High fences and 'real mean guns'

Montreal's unforgettable '76 Olympics had more ups and downs than a high jump competition. From out-of-control financial disasters and controversial political boycotts, to Nadia Comaneci's "perfect 10" and Canadian high jumper Greg Joy's exciting final jump — Montreal's Games had Canadians on the edge of their seats. CBC Archives looks back at the 1976 Olympics: their preparations, their competitions and their continued impact on Montreal.

"I've been fondled by these guys so many times, I think I might come home engaged," jokes reporter Gary Lautens. He's referring to the myriad of strict security officers at this year's Olympics. "These guys may look friendly, but they've all got real mean guns," he adds. The 1976 Summer Games are the most tightly guarded Olympics thus far. In this CBC Sports clip, Lautens takes a lighter look at all the soldiers and high fences surrounding Montreal's Olympic village.
• Following the tragic massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, security was an extremely high priority for Montreal. All athletes and dignitaries were guarded very closely, but the Israeli team received extra security attention.
• Shmuel Lalkin, head of security for the Israeli team, was very impressed with the security at Montreal and stated publicly that he had no worries at this event. In a CBC Radio report, Lalkin called the security "just about perfect."

• Montreal spent more than $100 million on the complex security operations at the Games.
• The security personnel comprised thousands of Canadian soldiers, Montreal-area policemen, Quebec provincial police, RCMP officers and immigration personnel. Their various roles included snipers/combat forces, crowd control, rescue/field hospital, logistics, aerial transport, traffic control and surveillance. Many had special training in negotiating with terrorists.

• Most tourists and Montrealers had no complaints about the extensive security measures at the Olympics, acknowledging them as necessary inconveniences. Some, however, were annoyed by the tight security around the city -- especially when it came to non-Olympic venues. One newspaper quoted a tourist who winced as a hotel security guard went over her arms and legs carefully with an electronic metal detector. "I'm getting tired of this every time I come in and out of the hotel," she said.

• Although security was extremely tight around Olympic sites, CBC Radio reporter Bob Johnstone reported that it wasn't perfect. He related an anecdote in which he was wandering around the Olympic grounds for quite a while with his security pass hidden under his jacket and nobody noticed.
• Montreal's security measures can be looked upon as a success, as there were no major security-related incidents at the 1976 Games.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Sports
Broadcast Date: July 19, 1976
Reporter: Gary Lautens
Duration: 1:54

Last updated: July 11, 2012

Page consulted on March 5, 2014

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