Counting Down the Ways the Olympics Changed Canada
If you want to get the world’s attention, hosting the Olympics is a good place to start. It’s been 40 years since Canada first held this honour, when Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Games. It took over a decade for the international event to return to Canada, moving westward in the winter of 1988 to Calgary and continuing on to Vancouver for the winter of 2010. As we’ve learned on three separate occasions, hosting the largest sporting event in the world will change a city-and a nation. Here are 10 ways Canada has changed since it first started hosting the Olympics.
1. It Cost Quebec Taxpayers a Fortune
Montreal wasn’t ready to host the Olympics in 1976. “We had to organize the biggest sporting event despite not having the experience,” recalls Laurent Godbout, executive director of the Quebec Track and Field Federation. “It was extremely difficult because there was no technical knowledge.” The legacy of Canada’s inaugural hosting duties isn’t exactly flattering. The infamous Olympic Stadium-considered one of the world’s most expensive stadiums-is still plagued with financial woes (it was paid off in 2006, but constantly requires maintenance due to endless tears in the roof).
2. It Inspired Future Generation Olympians
Despite being permanently marked for its financial flubs, the 1976 Summer Olympics did have a lasting positive impact on Quebecers. “It radically changed the outlook and specter that the population had on sport,” says Godbout. Quebecers started embracing and engaging in regular physical activities. The number of gyms, fitness and outdoor clubs shot up after the Olympics. It also paved a path and sparked a dream for many budding athletes-like speed skater Gaetan Boucher and diver Sylvie Bernier-who went on to compete in gold medal-winning performances throughout the 80s and 90s.