28 August 2006
by Nick Mulvenney
Beijing organizers expect the volunteer program for the 2008 Olympics
to be heavily oversubscribed but are still keen to involve people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao and further afield.
A recruitment campaign, launched at a ceremony in Beijing on Monday, is aiming to enlist 100,000 volunteers -- 70,000 for the Olympics and 30,000 for the Paralympics -- and officials do not anticipate any problem in reaching their target.
"We've already been really touched by the enthusiasm of the people," said Liu Jian, director of the volunteer program.
"We have such huge human resources and they are all passionate so we can be selective. I'm sure we'll have no problem in being able to find enough people with the right skills."
The army of volunteers have become a key feature of recent Games and in a recorded message, Beijing Organizing committee (BOCOG) president Liu Qi stressed the importance of the program to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"An Olympic Games stands no chance of success without a well-trained team of volunteers," he said. "The smiles of the volunteers will be Beijing's best business card."
Would-be volunteers from the Beijing area can start applying online and on paper from Monday with later stages of recruitment for other provinces and the wider world.
Applicants from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Chinese living and studying overseas and foreigners can apply starting March, 2007.
"It is a pleasure to invite friends from afar and Chinese from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao to help in providing services to the Games," Liu Qi said.
Although organizers expect to find many of their volunteers in Beijing's universities, Liu stressed that there was no upper age limit.
"We'll be looking for many people with specific skills and so it will not be just students but also the more mature as well," he said.
Volunteers will be fed but must pay for their own transport to and from Beijing and accommodation in the Chinese capital, although a "special plan" has been drawn up for a team from Hong Kong.
Liu Jian, who is also chief secretary of the Beijing Communist Youth League, said besides the Olympic volunteer program, "hundreds of thousands" of Beijingers would be needed for security and other matters away from the venues.
"There are many different ways for people to help out," he said. "Everyone can improve the city and be a good host -- that's also a contribution."