What is Nadia Comaneci doing now

Nadia Comaneci and the perfect disaster

Nadia Comaneci was the star of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Now she is back as an ambassador for the World Gymnastics Championships. But in Quebec people would rather not be reminded of that time.

The scoreboard wasn't made for perfection. Instead of “10.0” she showed “1.00” after Nadia Comaneci had received the first maximum mark in Olympic gymnastics history for her compulsory exercise on the uneven bars. These were unreal moments, and the images have stuck in the collective memory of world sport to the present day.

The Romanian, a pale child of 14, became the star of the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. Comaneci stands for the superficial sheen of a major event that has also been remembered as disastrous and damaging to the reputation of the Olympic movement. The deficit was 1.2 billion Canadian dollars; the residents of the province of Quebec had to pay it off through a tobacco tax until 2006.

The Olympic Stadium symbolizes the debacle and the trauma. It was built sloppily in a time constraint, only finished after the games, patched and repaired over and over again. Once, in 1991, a 55-ton concrete slab crashed onto a path that was fortunately deserted. The Kevlar roof installed in 1987 tore repeatedly until it was replaced by another roof in 1998, which in turn collapsed the following year under the weight of a blanket of snow. No wonder the local football team moved out at some point. And since the Montreal Expos moved to the USA in 2004 and played major league baseball as the Washington Nationals, there has been no permanent tenant. Over the decades, the Olympic Stadium has caused well over a billion in construction, renovation and repair costs. Today it stands in the landscape as a white elephant.

In August, asylum seekers were temporarily accommodated, especially those who had fled the neighboring country before Donald Trump, Haitians or Mexicans. This week the "Sündenbau" hosts the world championships in artistic gymnastics. The hall has been separated in the middle with cloths, and yet the few gymnastics equipment and its users seem a bit lost under the huge dome.

And Nadia Comaneci? She has returned to Montreal, the OK and the world association have made the American by choice the World Cup ambassador. That was probably not a bad PR move. But in Quebec, people would rather not be reminded of 1976.