Canada

Montreal remembers 1976 Olympics

Montreal's Olympic urn will burn outside the stadium until the first of August. It's to mark the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Olympics.

The flame was re-ignited at three o'clock in the presence of Stephane Prefontaine. He lit the urn 25 years ago as a 15-year-old Olympic hopeful.

The Olympics in Montreal were the first games hosted by Canada. They were the games of Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who scored perfect marks of 10, and captured three gold medals.

They were the games of Bruce Jenner, the American decathlete who broke the world record.

And they were the games of Greg Joy. He put some shine on Canada's record when he jumped for silver on the last day. But in the end Canada became the first host country not to win gold.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all turned out to be the Games finances. They were a catastrophe, and 25 years later Montrealers are still paying.

Mayor Jean Drapeau's famous quote promised the Olympics could no more have a deficit than a man could have a baby. The Games ran more than $1-billion over budget. The city still owes more than $300-million.

Montreal sports historian Earl Zuckerman says the critics are missing the point. "Montreal got a touch of class when they started with the World's Fair then followed up with the Olympics," he says. "It created much more tourism in this city and it put Montreal on an equal footing with every major city in the world."

now