It was one of the most pivotal periods in the history of the city. For two weeks in July, Montréal held the attention of the world as the host city for the 1976 Summer Olympics, which would live on in sports history as one of the most memorable presentations of the Games ever. Now, in 2016, Montréal is preparing to mark this milestone moment with an appropriately epic commemoration featuring 40 events celebrating the 40 years since the Olympics captured our imagination.
The 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal were the very first Summer Olympics hosted by Canada (and following two Winter Olympics in Calgary and Vancouver, remain the only Summer Games to take place here). Among the many highlights: 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci held the world in thrall, scoring seven perfect 10s on the way to winning three gold medals. Bruce Jenner set a world record with his gold medal performance in the decathlon. And after breaking his right knee during the floor exercise, Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto hid the injury during the rings event and somehow managed to stick a perfect dismount thus securing gold for the Japanese team. We could go on…
Montréal will pay tribute to these athletic accomplishments and more over the course of 2016 with 40 special events marking the 40-year anniversary. These activities – tailored to all ages and interests – will unfold over the whole year. Foremost among them will be historically significant exhibitions chronicling the Games’ awe-inspiring architectural achievements, the emotion of the Olympic experience and the broad social impact the Games had on the city. Numerous sporting events (football, baseball, tennis, rugby and more) are on tap, as are music events that run the gamut from rock to electro to classical (such as the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal with Maestro Kent Nagano performing under the stars on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life beside the Olympic Stadium, August 10).
The 40th anniversary programme isn’t lacking in the diversity department. Urban art, circus performance, food trucks (part of First Fridays each month, the biggest congregation of street cuisine in Québec), skateboarding and other action sports events, video gaming and a myriad range of other festivals, events and activities will also all be channelling the unforgettable Olympic spirit of ’76. Details on these and the full list of activities will be officially announced in March.
All of the above offer a unique opportunity to rediscover the architecturally amazing constructions in Olympic Park, such as the Olympic Stadium’s Montréal Tower, the tallest inclined tower in the world at 165 m. Its observatory is accessible by funicular and from there you can take in notable Olympic Park installations like the Botanical Gardens, the Biodome, Saputo Stadium (home of the city’s pro soccer team, the Montréal Impact) and the completely revamped, state-of-the-art Olympic Park Sports Centre athletic complex where many of Montréal’s elite athletes train in a variety of sports disciplines.
The Olympic Park is a world-class example of a modern urban park, a unique crossroads which combines creation, discovery, entertainment and physical activity. It’s the living legacy of those exciting, action-packed Summer Games so many decades ago, and a vibrant and lively space that pays great tribute to its auspicious origins, especially in 2016.