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Montreal 1976 Torch Relay IOC

Route design and details

After its lighting in Olympia, the flame was transported by relay in Greece to Athens, reaching there on 15 July. The organisers worked out a special system to transmit the Olympic flame from Greece to Canada. On the same evening that the flame arrived in Athens, at a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium, the Olympic flame was placed next to a sensor, which captured the ionised particles. Transformed into coded impulses, they were then relayed by satellite to Ottawa.

In Ottawa, the time difference meant that it was only early afternoon when a laser beam reflected in a parabolic mirror gave back the flame its original form and lit a cauldron located on Parliament Hill. For the first kilometre on Canadian soil, 12 runners who represented the 10 provinces and two territories of Canada at that time each carried a torch with the flame. They came together at the same time as they passed it on the 13th torchbearer.

Between Ottawa and Montreal, the relay travelled along the Ottawa River passing successively from one bank to the other. The flame arrived in Montreal on 16 July and burned during the night in a cauldron at the top of Mount Royal.

On 16 July, on the road that took the flame to Montreal, a second convoy was formed in Pincourt to take a flame over a distance of about 300 km to Kingston, venue for the sailing competitions. It was first taken by car to Cornwall where it spent the night and then, the next day it was conveyed by foot and various modes of transport, from bicycle to Native American canoes.

Montreal 1976 relay route IOC

Start date: 13 July 1976, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 17 July 1976, Olympic Stadium, Montreal (Canada)
First torchbearer: Tassos Psyllidis
Last torchbearers: Sandra Henderson and Stéphane Préfontaine
Number of torchbearers: 500 in Greece, 261 in Canada (Pincourt-Kingston relay excluded)
Recruitment of torchbearers: For the national relay, advertisements were distributed via sports and leisure associations in Canadian cities and regional town halls. The torchbearers had notably to be amateur athletes or fitness enthusiasts and be aged at least 15 on 15 July 1976, the start day of the relay on Canadian soil. Over 4,000 candidatures were received by the Organisers. A computer made the final selection of torchbearers.
Distance: 775 km.
514 km in Greece, 261 km in Canada (Pincourt-Kingston relay excluded).
Countries visited: Greece, Canada
Montreal 1976 Torch IOC Description: The emblem of the Games features in white on the red handle. Through its conception, the head of the torch supplied the combustion necessary for the natural absorbent cotton impregnated with the fuel that was housed inside. Its black colour was aimed at highlighting the flame.
Colour: Red, black, white
height: 67.5 cm
Composition: Aluminium
Fuel: Olive oil, adjuvant and smoke cartridge. The choice of fuel evoked Ancient Greece. The minimum combustion duration is 10 minutes.
Designer / Manufacturer: Georges Huel & Michel Dallaire / -

Did you know?

  • For the first time, two people together lit the Olympic cauldron in the Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Games. Sandra Henderson from Toronto and Stephane Préfontaine from Montreal were chosen to symbolise the Anglophone and Francophone communities. “It was the greatest experience I have ever had,” said Préfontaine in 1986.
  • The main cauldron was 1.80 m in diameter and made of frosted aluminium. For its lighting during the Opening Ceremony, it was placed on a temporary platform in the centre of the field of play. Later it was moved to the most southerly point of the Stadium, where it burned for the duration of the Games.

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