They are called the 'Ritual Volunteers' and on Thursday, they were the cynosure of all eyes. Not that they haven't endeared themselves to the medal-winners and all those who have seen them sashaying down the red carpet with medal trays in hand, but Thursday was a special day, dedicated to them and the hard work they have put in.
Though not all of the pretty girls were present when the 380 ritual volunteers were feted by the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee at a ceremony, busy as they were at some of the venues where competitions are still on, but those present looked like angels, who had descended on earth to give away the medals.
The GAGOC spent one-and-a-half years on these ladies --- beautifully dressed in light-green, hip-hugging ceremonial attire --- training them in etiquette, fluent Chinese and English. Every measured step they take on way to the podium, and every smile that graces their visage, shows that the grind has borne fruit.
Until November 24, the ritual volunteers had accomplished 384 victory ceremonies and awarded 2,971 medals. "Today, we are celebrating the service rendered to the athletes by them. Before they leave their abode --- they underwent rigorous training at the Southern Medical University campus ---- we wanted to give them a fond farewell," said a GAGOC official.
Their regimented routine has continued even here with the GAGOC "in order to maintain a good working condition" demanding that they arrive at the venues four hours before the first victory ceremony "to make preparations such as makeup, dress rehearsal".
A GAGOC official communiqué said, "In some venues with early ceremonies and high victory ceremony frequency, the ritual volunteers need to arrive early in the morning and come back at midnight after their work. Also, as to some team events with many athletes (sic), the ritual volunteer should stand under the sun for at least half-an-hour. "Facing these difficulties, the volunteers never complain and greet the guests with the most brilliant smile, energetic state of mind and amiable attitude. They present honour and blessing to the athletes of the Games."