06 June 2005
Speaking at the launch of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Volunteer Programme in the Chinese capital on Sunday, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Executive Coordinator Ad de Raad marked the upcoming summer games as a prime opportunity to further strengthen global support for volunteerism.
“The 2008 Olympic Games offers China and the world the opportunity to take a huge step forward in raising global awareness of the power and the critical importance of volunteer contributions, not only to sport but to the well-being of societies worldwide,” said Mr. de Raad.
In his address to an audience of 700, which included Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, and Liu Qi, Mayor of Beijing and chair of the Beijing Olympic Organization Committee, Mr. de Raad linked the spirit of the Olympics to that of volunteerism.
“Like the Olympics, volunteerism is essentially and profoundly optimistic… It is about participation, inclusion and citizenship,” he says. “For many, it requires performing on someone else’s turf and, if done well, everyone wins. And like the Olympics, it can be done by a broad range of ages, women and men, racial and ethnic groups, the able-bodied and less able-bodied, and all social strata.”
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who sent a greeting to participants, stressed the invaluable role of volunteers, not only to the Olympics but also the mission of the UN. “Volunteers have become as indispensable to the Olympics as they have long been to the United Nations,” he said. “[T]hey provide countless acts of solidarity and assistance, helping to advance our global mission. The volunteer spirit continues to occupy an important place in our work to build a better, fairer and safer world.”
A forum on "Volunteer Services and People’s Olympics" followed the 5 June launch of the Olympic Volunteer Programme, which outlined plans to involve some 100,000 volunteers: 70,000 for the Games and 30,000 for the Paralympics. Panellists at the forum held discussions on past Olympic volunteer experiences and offered suggestions on the organization of the volunteer component of the 2008 Games.
The Games of the XXIX Olympiad - Beijing 2008, will take place from 8 to 24 August 2008. The Games will play host to 28 sports, with approximately 10,500 athletes expected to participate.