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The Transformation of Security Planning for the Olympics: The 1976 Montreal Games


The Transformation of Security Planning for the Olympics: The 1976 Montreal Games

Abstract: 

Montreal's Summer Olympics in 1976 was a turning point in Olympic history: it was the Games' first highly visible security operation. It was also a transformative moment in the history of security planning in Canada: preparations for the games contributed to shifting the Security Services' focus from communism towards domestic and international terrorism. The following article documents, for the first time, the scope of this operation. It is based on five years of requests and appeals under the federal Access to Information Act, which led to the release of over fifty thousand pages of Royal Canadian Mounted Police documents. I argue that security for the Montreal Olympics was based largely on imagined threats. In addition, I argue that security costs for the Montreal Olympics were high but modest as compared to the overall budget. Nonetheless, Montreal set a precedent for high security costs that have since become the standard for hosting the Olympics. Finally, I argue that the Montreal Olympics had long-term implications for policing in Canada. The scale of the operation produced new resources and inter-agency links that were only made possible as a result of hosting the games.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Clement, Dominique. (2015). "The Transformation of Security Planning for the Olympics: The 1976 Montreal Games." Terrorism and Political Violence (February): 1-25. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09546553.2014.987342

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