The facilities for next month's Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, have been officially handed over to the Olympic organising committee.
The facilities for next month's Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, have been officially handed over to the Olympic organising committee. The work has been troubled with industrial and weather problems and even the handing over ceremony had to be postponed for a week.
SYNOPSIS: The complex is just part of what has become the most controversial and by far the most expensive sporting event of all time. Current estimates say the cost will reach more than a billion dollars and Montreal's expected deficit between expected revenue and costs will be 200 million dollars.
Among the guests at the ceremony on Sunday was Montreal's mayor, Jean Drapeau. The Games were essentially his idea, but he maintained they would be modest games that would be self-financing. They would show the world that any country, not just the rich, could stage an olympiad. Somewhere, the idea and costs got out of hand. At one stage the games looked as though they would be cancelled because the complex would not be finished.
Then, last November, the provincial government stepped in and took control. On Sunday, the Premier, Robert Bourassa praised the efforts of the workers who, he said, managed against all odds to build the bold and complex structures.
The main problem facing the government was how to pare down what had to be accomplished. The high mast which was to top the imposing stadium was scrapped, athletes will be using prefabricated changing rooms, and the large news centre in the stadium was scrapped. One part of the stadium which was completed on schedule was the swimming centre.
Another section which came under attack, particularly from the news media, was the cycling velodrome. Reports said the city was wasting ten million dollars by trying to build it too quickly. It had originally hoped to get it completed for the 1974 world cycling championships.
What has been salvaged from what became known as "Drapeau's folly" is a functional arena with all the frills cut away. Whether the grand design envisaged by Mayor Drapeau will ever be finished is left to history and Montreal taxpayers.