Or the Blue Jackets or Team 2010. Whatever you want to call us we are the 2010 Winter Olympic Games workforce, both voluntary and paid. As I am a volunteer I am going to focus on our side.
Volunteers play a massive role in delivering success at major sports events and these Games are no exception. It goes without saying that without athletes there would be no Games but without volunteers there would also be no Games. The cost involved in paying an entire workforce would be too much for any city bidding to host any major event therefore those of us who are willing give of their time for free are vital in the grand scheme of the event.
It was a feel good moment when I received my accreditation and uniform. The uniform, valued at $800, is the official badge of honour and is worn proudly by each of us. The accreditation brings other benefits such as free travel for the duration of the Games and other discounted rates on activities. I, for one, feel very fortunate to have the privilege of being an Olympic volunteer.
Here in Vancouver, there are around 18,500 volunteers undertaking a range of jobs from resident services, logistics, transportation, event services, information guides, and the list goes on! Some are even “Weasel Workers” , as they are known in Whistler, who start work at 3am or earlier on the Olympic downhill run to prep the course.
Approx 95% of the volunteers are Canadian and the rest come from places out with Canada, such as Germany, USA, Australia, and of course me, from Scotland.
The volunteers pay their own way to Vancouver/Whistler and take paid or unpaid leaves from their day jobs. Our shifts are over 10-hour long and can involve a lot of standing for long periods of time.
Some volunteers are assigned to teams and are known as National Olympic Committee (NOC) Assistants. These people, for the most part, are selected because they are bilingual. I find it facinating to hear a volunteer and an athlete/official converse about something and makes me wish I was able to speak another language.
There is one thing for sure about being a volunteer, you have absolutely no idea what the day will bring. Some days can busy with a variety of things to do and others can be quiet just waiting for some action. I have yet to have a day that dragged too much, although there were a couple of times when I was involved with the biathlon equipment that I watched the clock.
For many, but not me, today is their last day as a 2010 Olympic volunteer and many are already thinking about what they could do next. I have been asked many times how I became a volunteer at these Games and how they go about being a volunteer at future Games, especially London in 2012. I have also taken the opportunity to encourage folk to consider volunteering at the 2014 Commonweath Games in Glasgow. Further information can be found at the following:
Glasgow 2014 – http://www.volunteerglasgow.org/sport/ (the new Glasgow 2014 website will be launched soon)