Host City: Montréal, Canada
Date Started: July 18, 1976
Date Finished: July 30, 1976
Participants: 216 (120 men and 96 women) from 13 countries
Youngest Participant: María Cecilia del Risco (15 years, 331 days)
Oldest Participant: Paulo Peterle (36 years, 149 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 72 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Soviet Union (2 medals)
The 1976 volleyball tournaments were held mostly at the Centre Paul-Sauvé in Montréal, with some of the final round matches played at the Montreal Forum. The Centre Paul-Sauvé was built in 1960 in the Rosemont District of Montréal. It was well known for hosting several important events in the modern political history of Québec. After the Olympics it was used for various purposes, including as a curling hall, a bingo hall, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, and for trade shows, but it was eventually demolished in 1996. The Montreal Forum is the most storied venue in North American ice hockey history. It was built in 1924 and was the home of the Montréal Maroons from 1924-38 and the Montréal Canadiens from 1926-96.
The men’s tournament had 10 teams starting, although Egypt withdrew early in support of the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics. The teams were separated into two five-team groups which played a round-robin tournament to advance two teams from each group to the semi-finals. The women had eight teams, separated into two four-team groups which also played a round-robin tournament to advance two teams from each group to the semi-finals.
The 10 men’s teams qualified for the 1976 Olympics as follows – Canada as the host nation; Japan as the 1972 Olympic Champion; Poland as the 1974 World Champion; the Soviet Union as the 1975 European Champion; Korea (South) as the runner-up behind Japan at the 1975 Asian Championships; Cuba as the 1975 Norceca (North and Central American and Caribbean) Champion; Egypt as the 1975 African Olympic Qualifying Champion; and the top two finishers at the 1976 Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Czechoslovakia (1st) and Italy (2nd).
The eight women’s teams qualified for the 1976 Olympics as follows – Canada as the host nation; the Soviet Union as the 1972 Olympic Champion; Japan as the 1974 World Champion; Hungary as the runner-up at the 1975 European Championships, behind the Soviets; Korea (South) as the runner-up at the 1975 Asian Championships, behind Japan; Cuba as the 1975 Norceca (North and Central American and Caribbean) Champion; Peru as the 1975 South American Champion; and the German Democratic Republic (East) as the 1976 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Champion.
The men’s favorites were Poland and the Soviet Union and they met in the final, with Poland defeating the Soviets in a tense five-set victory. The Soviet women had won the last two gold medals but Japan defeated the Soviets in the final in straight sets, winning their first gold medal in the sport since 1964.