05 Dec 2014
Today is International Volunteer Day 2014. As an organisation that involves volunteers, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is celebrating and recognising those central to helping us bring every edition of the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games to life – the volunteers!
Often clad in eye-catching uniforms to make them easy for spectators to spot, the volunteers at both Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games can be found welcoming visitors to the venues, meeting delegations at the airport, transporting athletes to and from competition sites or performing various other critical roles behind the scenes.
From the 2,191 volunteers at the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952 to the 70,000 at the London Games in 2012, each edition of the Games has seen incredible support from thousands of men and women, who in the lead-up to and during the Games work freely and tirelessly in an array of areas and functions to ensure that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The Games would simply not be the same without their dedication, motivation and smiles!
The Olympic Movement has a long tradition of volunteerism dating back to the beginning of the Movement and the first Games in 1896, and which continues today at all levels, from the volunteer at the NOC level, who gives his/her time to help train young athletes; to the Games-time volunteer and to the IOC members, who are all volunteers and give their time willingly to help promote the ideals of Olympism and build a better world through sport.
In recognition of their role, volunteers are provided with everything they need to ensure they have the best Games experience possible, including meals, accommodation and a variety of leisure activities, ranging from educational programmes to concerts.
Great Britain’s Ian Kershaw, who volunteered during the London 2012 Olympic Games and hopes to have the chance to relive life as volunteer in Rio, says of his experience: “In London I was a workforce team leader in the Athletes’ Village. It was the best month of my life, being surrounded by such positivity in all respects. I registered [as a volunteer] for Rio 2016 on the first day possible.”
Creating human legacies
Prior to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Russia had never had any volunteering initiatives. Nevertheless, thanks to a nationwide campaign, 200,000 applicants heeded the call for volunteers. After a selection phase, 25,000 individuals from 11 different time zones representing every region of Russia (from as far afield as St Petersburg, Vladivostok, Arkhangelsk and Omsk) and from other countries flocked to Sochi to make their mark on Olympic history.
As Sochi 2014 CEO and President Dmitry Chernyshenko pointed out earlier this year: “When Sochi began the bidding process in 2005, the concept of volunteering simply did not exist in Russia. Now, the volunteer movement is thriving, with a quarter of a million Russians regularly participating in volunteer activity.”
The enthusiasm of volunteering has been reciprocated at the Youth Olympic Games, with both Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing this summer seeing over 19,000 young volunteers pledge their commitment and youthful energy for the 10-day sporting, cultural and educational event. At the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012, the volunteers were called the “backbone.”
To mark International Volunteer Day, we want to say a big “thank you” to all our volunteers!
And if you want to experience the Games as a volunteer, there’s still time to sign up for Rio 2016 up to December 15, 2014. For more information, visit www.rio2016.com/volunteers.