Volunteers may outnumber foreign visitors at Beijing Olympics
19 June 2007

Beijing, China: Beijing municipal officials on Monday announced a target of 400,000 city volunteers to staff urban areas outside the Olympic venues — like bus stations, subway stations and first-aid centers.

An additional 70,000 people are expected to work as volunteers at Olympic venues, with 30,000 more working at Paralympic venues.

The volunteers roughly equal the number of foreign visitors expected for the Olympics, with estimates ranging from 500,000 to 800,000.

"We hope we can meet the demands of our visitors," said Liu Jian, office director of volunteer programs for the Beijing organizing committee.

"We hope when they visit they will be impressed by our service," Liu added.

Liu said 500 stations, away from Olympic venues, would be set up across Beijing during the games, providing travel information, translation services and emergency services.

In a statement, Beijing officials said the volunteers were expected to "promote civility and create a favorable environment."

The volunteer program is part of a larger campaign to wipe out practices common in China — like spitting, littering and jumping ahead in queues.

Chinese officials hope to use the games to make a positive impression on outsiders, although air quality and horrendous traffic jams could threaten the capital's image during the 17-day Olympics.

Beijing organizers are expected to pull at least one-third of Beijing's 3 million vehicles off the road during the games, shutter factories and suspend most dust-raising construction work in one of the world's most polluted cities.
From: Associated Press (AP)
© Associated Press


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