The Commonwealth Games is losing its backbone. All events of this magnitude are powered by the services provided by volunteers, from providing information, to liaising between teams and organisers, and helping people with special needs. Volunteers provide the manpower needed to keep the machinery running. But if numbers are any indication, then the Delhi Games organisers are short of volunteers by well over 50 per cent.
According to the Games Organising Committee (GOC) daily report, dated September 24, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, only 10,849 volunteers have received their accreditation documents for the Games. The requirement stated by the OC was much, much higher at 22,000.
The report also states that the Workforce FA (Functional Area) received Police verification forms from a total of only 14,901 selected volunteers. With teams having started to arrive, and others scheduled to in the next few days, sources indicated that this number could well be the final number of volunteers that will be available for the October 3-14 event.
HT had earlier reported that the Organising Committee initially called for 30,000 volunteers. The number was scaled down to 22,000. But now they are finding it difficult to even muster that many.
Sebastian Coe, heading the London 2012 Olympics organising Committee said, “The London Games will be run by volunteers. We are looking at as many as 70,000 people from London, England and all over the world applying to help out with various aspects of the Games and without this, the event will not happen. For Delhi too, volunteers will be crucial.”
Initially there were concerns over whether Delhi's citizens would want to come out and volunteer their time, but from the outset, the response was great. Even organisations like the National Cadet Corps had offered to fill thousands of spots. So why has this shortfall come about? It appears to be a case of mismanagement on the part of those handling the applications and accreditation.
Take the example of Praveen Kumar, a student of Delhi University. “I went through the whole process of training for 21 days. And now the organisers say they don't have my data,” said the 20-year-old who has been coming to the OC for the last three days, and spending most of his day waiting for a proper response. “Today, finally an official told me that they don’t have my data. I even have their messages containing a user ID and password to check volunteer information online. My police verification formalities have been completed.”