1976 Summer Paralympics

V Paralympic Games
Host city Toronto, Ontario
Nations participating 32
Athletes participating 1,657
(1,404 men, 253 women)
Events 447 in 13 sports
Opening ceremony August 3
Closing ceremony August 11
Officially opened by Pauline McGibbon
Paralympic stadium Woodbine Racetrack
Centennial Park Stadium
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The 1976 Summer Paralympics (branded as Torontolympiad - 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled) (French: Les Ve Paralympiques d'été) was the fifth Paralympic Games to be held. They were hosted by Toronto, in the province of Ontario, from August 3 to 11, 1976, marking the first time a Paralympics was held in Canada. The games began two days after the close of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.


This was the first time global politics interfered with the Paralympic Games. "The problem stemmed from the logic that admitting a team from South Africa was to give implicit approval for its government's attitude towards segregation and racism." Although the South African team at the time was a multi-racial one, the Canadian government withdrew its half million dollar contribution and "matching amounts of funds were likely to be pulled out by the metropolitan government".[1] The provincial government at Queen's Park eventually covered the tab.[2]

Two groups, both with the same President - Ludwig Guttmann - were involved in the decision-making: the International Sports Organisation for the Disabled and the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation. Guttman and Bob Jackson, (Chairman of the Organising Committee) worked to convince the governments to honour their promises of support and were largely successful. Nevertheless, a number of teams withdrew, following on from the Montreal boycott by 25 countries, and were threatened with exclusion from future events. Later, efforts were made to develop a joint policy with the International Olympic Committee.[1]

Rhodesia was not allowed to participate as the Canadian government refused to grant visas for the Rhodesian Paralympic team to attend the competition.[3]


The opening of the 1976 games was held at Woodbine Race Track in north Etobicoke. There was no athletes' village, so competitors were housed at York University (Keele campus), University of Toronto (St. George Campus), and the CNIB (national headquarters in Toronto).[2] Israeli athletes were housed at an undisclosed hotel due to security concerns.[2] Closing ceremonies and outdoor events (mainly track and field) took place at Centennial Park Stadium. Centennial Gymnasium and Centennial Park's Olympic Pool (Etobicoke Olympium) were the other venues (for indoor and swimming events respectively).

Media coverage

The 1976 games marked the first television coverage of Paralympic events. Performances were shown to viewers in Southern Ontario.[4] Within the Toronto area, a consortium of local cable companies (including Trillium Cable and Rogers Cable) carried the games on channel 10 after CTV and Global TV declined to carry them.[2]


At the 1976 games, amputees and visually impaired athletes competed for the first time; previous editions of the Paralympic Games had included only wheelchair athletes. Within the sport of athletics, new wheelchair racing distances of 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1500 m were added. Shooting and goalball, both previously demonstration events, were included as official medal sports.[5]

Medal table

The top 10 NPCs by number of gold medals are listed below. The host nation, Canada, is highlighted.

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States664444154
2 Netherlands45251484
3 Israel40131669
4 West Germany37342697
5 Great Britain29293694
6 Canada25262677
7 Poland24171253
8 France23211458
9 Sweden22272473
10 Austria17161750

Participating delegations

Forty delegations took part in the Toronto Paralympics.[6]

South Africa was competing at the Paralympics for the fourth time. Although banned from the Olympic Games due to its policy of apartheid, it was not banned from the Paralympics until 1980, and Canada, as host country, did not object to its participation. These were, however, to be its last Paralympics before the dismantling of apartheid; The Netherlands, as hosts of the 1980 Games, declared South Africa's further participation "undesirable".[7][8]

See also


  1. 1 2 Bailey, Steve (2008). Athlete First: A history of the paralympic movement. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 35–36. ISBN 9780470058244.
  2. 1 2 3 4 http://torontoist.com/2014/06/historicist-torontolympiad-76/
  3. Little, Cliff (2008). "The Paralympic Protest Paradox: The Politics of Rhodesian Participation in the Paralympic Games, 1960–1980" (Pdf). Pathways: Critiques and Discourse in Olympic Research: 123–131. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  4. "Untitled". Toronotolympiad. 4 August 1976.
  5. "Toronto 1976". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  6. "Medal Standings - Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games". International Paralympic Committee. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  7. "'The Netherlands against Apartheid' - 1970s", International Institute of Social History
  8. South Africa at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee
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