Making the Games
by Fabienne Copin
Bonn, Germany: Getting involved in the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games has proven to be a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience for the 70,000 volunteers assisting the organizers in making the Games happen.
Coming from 70 countries from across the globe and outfitted with purple and red volunteer uniforms, these “Games Makers” were hard to miss in the UK throughout July and August – their work has hit the headlines and displayed the impact had by their Olympic volunteerism.
“So far I’ve loved volunteering at the Olympics, and it makes a brilliant change from my usual job in investment banking in the City,” said Miranda Staveley, 23, to The Telegraph. Miranda helped at Greenwich Park, which hosts the Equestrian and Olympic Modern Pentathlon events. “When I’m there I’ll look after and wash the horses, mow the lawn around the village and generally make sure that the area is looking good for when the athletes arrive.”
“I'm happy and proud to participate in these Olympic Games,” said Farid Chai, originally from Algeria. “I volunteer as a translator for Arabic and English to help foreign journalists in their work with Arab athletes.”
“Unpaid but upbeat…” – as described by Reuters in its 6 August online edition – these volunteers greatly benefited from the Olympics, gaining valuable experience to help them grow as they learn and take on responsibility. Their work has not gone unnoticed. Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee (LOCOG), expressed his pride to Reuters, saying, “Our brilliant volunteers seem to be having an extraordinary impact on everyone they get to meet”.
“They have proved the unexpected hit of the Games – the troops of volunteers there to direct Olympic visitors, to marshal security lanes, take tickets and generally make sure that the wheels don’t come off the so-called Greatest Show on Earth,” emphasized Laura Collins in The National. “Perched high to direct visitors along the correct lane he [the Games Maker] was so engaging that other volunteers had to shuffle visitors on as they paused to take in the show,” she wrote.
Even after their closing, the Olympic Games have spurred on volunteerism in sports and athletic clubs. As the Telegraph reported in its online edition, “The feel-good factor of London 2012 has inspired more than 100,000 people to volunteer at sports clubs, schools and other good causes in a desire to keep the spirit of the Olympic Games alive.”
UNV has played a vital role in enhancing the capacity of Olympics volunteers. Under the project entitled “Strengthening Volunteerism for Development in China through the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games”, over 7,500 Olympic volunteers and volunteer managers were trained to efficiently conduct and promote the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Following this successful initiative, a Chinese delegation shared their experience with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), then preparing for the London 2012 Games, in a bid to transfer the project’s legacy.
Bio: Fabienne Copin is Communications Associate at the Communications Section of the United Nations Volunteer programme
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