Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua)-- David Brettel, director
of the volunteer program of the Sydney Organizing Committee for Olympic Games
(SOCOG), is surprised to find that the seminal program in Sydney has grown into
a thriving tree in Beijing.
The Australian, who is an Olympic consultant,
developed and implemented staffing policies, procedures and workforce conditions
from 1996 to 2000. He has been invited by the Beijing Organizing Committee for
Olympic Games (BOCOG) to advise on volunteers.
Being a lover of tennis and cricket, Brettell decided
to contribute to the Olympics after he went to see the Munich Olympics in 1972.
To date, he has been to the Olympics in nine cities. "The Olympics have long
been a passion of mine," he says.
The chance came in 1996. "SOCOG wanted to find
somebody independent to carry out the volunteer program," says Brettell. It was
a great challenge for him, a marketing specialist with an insurance company.
The program under his directorship turned out to be a
success. More than 62,000 volunteers across the country participated. Half were
aged over 45, the oldest being 82 and the youngest 16.
He is proud of its record for retaining volunteers.
"About 5 percent of our volunteers were lost, compared to a much higher record
of 20 percent at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics," he says.
The success lies in good recruitment, training,
management and motivation. "You have to match the right skills to the right
people, and vice versa."
Antonio Samaranch, then-president of the
International Olympics Committee, said at the closing ceremony of Sydney
Olympics that the volunteers were "the most wonderful and dedicated games
Eight years later, Brettel finds the volunteer
program in Beijing has made a great leap forward. "The BOCOG has done a lot of
thinking, organization and training. "
The recruitment work started in August 2006, and more
than 1.1 million people applied, out of which 10 percent were selected. The
number of applicants is ten times larger than that of Sydney. A major feature of
Beijing Olympics is that university students are being fully tapped.
All the volunteers have received systematic training,
including general, professional and venue training, says Liu Jian, director of
volunteer program under BOCOG. Some 33,000 volunteers participated in the Good
Luck Beijing test matches as part of the preparation. Foreign experts on
volunteering work are also invited to give technical guidance, such as
"In my opinion, the volunteer program of Beijing
Olympic Games will be a new benchmark, as Beijing has designed a much better
plan than any other city, especially the massive city volunteer program. Beijing
is unique. If successful, the volunteer program in the future will change."
What Brettell has in mind is the long-standing effect
of volunteerism.Since the Sydney Olympics, the number of volunteers in Australia
has grown by 25 percent to 4 million. People have come to realize the importance
of volunteering, for which the Games can take credit, he says.
"The success of the Olympics will be very strongly
influenced by the involvement of the communities in which they are held. They
best way for that involvement to manifest itself is through volunteering," he
Similarly, the university volunteers at Beijing
Olympics will keep up the spirit of volunteerism and make a long-term work in
the future, he says.
Sustainability is a priority in the post-Olympic
blueprint. Under a three-year project initiated by BOGOC, Beijing will continue
the implementation of many small community volunteer programs. "Beijing is
deliberately planning a legacy," Brettel says.
Liu Hui, an officer of UN Volunteers (UNV), says the
UNV will help establish an online platform linking those who need volunteer
services and those who can provide it during and after the Games. "The mechanism
is important to guarantee the continuity. "
A total of 74,615 volunteers will provide services at
Games venues, the Olympic Village and media centers. Another 1 million "social
volunteers" have been helping to keep traffic flowing and maintain social order
in the communities and townships of Beijing.
More than 400,000 city volunteers have been working
at 550 street stalls around Beijing since July, providing information, emergency
aid and translation for people from around the world.
Brettell hopes the Beijing Olympic Games will be
"super-successful"."The motto 'One world, one dream ' is fantastic. It refers to
the world community as one. It is a dream and ambition to be fulfilled. It will
also set a model for the future. "