The atmosphere could not be more different in Montreal, host of the Games of the XXI Olympiad. The Olympic venues are mostly still there. Olympic Stadium, location of the opening and closing ceremonies is a city landmark, but has been unused since the Expos moved to Washington. The Olympic Rowing Basin is still there, but serves more as a novelty during the Formula One Grand Prix. Even the Olympic Village, residence for the athletes during the ‘76 games, is still there although now serving as rental apartments. But references to the Summer Games are no where to be found. There are no banners, no museums, no stores and no attractions. For Montreal, it is as if the games never happened.
And that may be the way Montreal wants it. The Olympic Games were a disaster for North America’s French city. Current estimates for the construction and maintenance of Olympic Stadium alone top $1.61 billion (Canadian). All for a structure that hosts no major sports team. In fact, it wasn’t until December of 2006, thirty years after the Olympic flame was extinguished, that Montreal finally paid off its debt for the 1976 games. Montreal’s Olympic experience was a nightmare.