Athletes celebrated at Canada Olympic Excellence Day

WATCH: Montrealers celebrated Canada Olympic Excellence Day to acknowledge sports and educate Canadians about the country’s athletic legacy. Global’s Elysia Bryan-Baynes reports.

MONTREAL – If you’ve been anywhere near downtown Phillips Square and René-Lévesque boulevard, you may have encountered lots of trucks and road closures – but don’t worry, it’s not more construction.

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It’s all part of the set-up for the Canada Olympic Excellence Day celebrations, an event to mark the opening of the Canadian Olympic House at 500 René-Lévesque boulevard West.

The house aims to celebrate sports and educate Canadians about the country’s athletic legacy.

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The modern building will offer a permanent high-tech exhibit, the “Olympic Experience,” where visitors can try their hand at different Olympic sports and get informed about the science behind famous athletes’ successes.

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Celebrations for the opening of the Olympic House kick off at 6 p.m. Thursday night.

A few hundred Olympians from Canada and beyond will be there, including perfect-scoring gymnast Nadia Comaneci and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters.

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But it’s not an exclusive event – it’s completely free and open to the public.

Guests will be able to get a first look at the Olympic Experience exhibit and check out interactive Olympic sport demonstrations.

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The high-point of the evening, so to speak, will be the unveiling of the gigantic Olympic rings at the Olympic House, with the help of Cirque du Soleil.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee and Marcel Aubut, head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, meet with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre as part of Olympic Excellence Day on Thursday, July 9, 2015. Karol Dahl/Global News

Placing the Olympic rings on the building is a big deal – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is extremely protective of where the ring logo get displayed.

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They’ve never before allowed the rings to be installed on any building except the IOC headquarters in Switzerland.

The Canadian Olympic Committee said it worked hard to get the rights to the rings, which will be visible from Mount Royal, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and planes flying overhead – so they want to celebrate the country’s sports achievement with a huge event.

Road closures

If the Olympics aren’t your thing, these celebrations do mean some big road closures in downtown Montreal.

René-Lévesque boulevard is closed all day from Robert-Bourassa to de Bleury streets, and surrounding streets such as Phillips Square and Union avenue are closed between Cathcart and Belmont streets.

Several STM bus routes are being detoured around the event including the 150, Réne-Lévesque, and the 15, Sainte-Catherine.

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