Help, they need some bodies...

The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games ushered in a new era in sports-management in terms of hosting a mega event with the help of volunteers, reports Indraneel Das.
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Updated on Feb 21, 2009 11:15 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByIndraneel Das, New Delhi

The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games ushered in a new era in sports-management in terms of hosting a mega event with the help of volunteers. It showed how critical, both in operational and financial aspects of the Games, were the contributions of volunteers.

No wonder then, that it became one of the biggest peacetime projects in the mobilisation of human resources. Sandy Hollway, the CEO of the Sydney Olympic Organising Committee (SOCOG) visualised and conceptualised the idea. “We knew how decisive the success of volunteer programmes would be in hosting a smooth Games,” he said on a visit here in 2002. He added: “The volunteers became, for spectators and visitors, the face of the Games. They were everywhere and they were our goodwill ambassadors on the streets.”

Financially, it saved money. Operationally, the 50,000 volunteers in Sydney made everyone’s life that much easier.

Ditto during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The M2006 managed to mobilise 15,000 individuals to assist in hosting the Games. Again during the Olympics in China, though volunteers struggled to speak English, they managed to deliver with nods, smiles and sign language. Beijing launched its volunteer programme on June 5, 2005, three years ahead of the games.

With a little over a year and a half left, Delhi’s volunteer programme is yet to take off. And that’s an issue. It’s not just about recruiting people, it’s also about training them.

“That will take time,” JS Naruka, convener, volunteer committee, admitted. “I have submitted the volunteer plan to the Organising Committee but am waiting for their go ahead. I hope it comes soon.”

Naruka said the Games would need 30,000 volunteers. “Melbourne had around 15,000, we need double that,” he said. “And we need sufficient time to train them. As it is we are behind schedule.”

So where will these volunteers come from? Delhi University? “DU is in the scheme of things,” Naruka agreed but added that 2010 has grander plans. “It will be a global programme and spread through various institutions.”

Watch this space.

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