Chasing the Olympic dream

Sport Business News

Joost de Jong from Revista Brasil takes a look at volunteer programmes at recent and future Brazilian major events.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games not only inspire thousands of athletes from around the globe, for an even higher number of volunteers they are a way of chasing their own Olympic dream as well. Already before the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was officially announced as being the host for the Olympic family in 2016, over 5, 000 people had registered themselves as a volunteer at the local organising committee's website. After the announcement was made official in October 2009 in Copenhagen, the number tripled instantly. According to estimates of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) and based on previous Olympics, around 45, 000 people are needed on a voluntary basis in 2016. They will be positioned in about 500 different jobs varying from assisting athletes and receiving official guests to serving meals in the Olympic Village. Off course, no remuneration is handed to the 'invisible force' behind the scenes. An official uniform, meal, transport ticket and a certificate afterwards are all they'll have to do it for. Being part of one of the biggest sports events in the world, if not the biggest, and the chance to have a glance at the Olympic stars or a world leader compensate working days of sometimes 10–12 hours, in Rio presumably accompanied by an intense tropical heat. With over six years still to go, the number of enthusiasts from all over Brazil and the rest of the world that want to participate in the Rio Games, rises daily. Almost every Brazilian, especially those from the younger generations, seems to desire to be a part of Rio 2016. Already during the bidding procedure, Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes used the public support and enthusiasm in his city as a unique selling point for the Rio bid. "Around 65% of the people from 16 to 24 years of age would like to work as volunteers for the Olympic Games, " he said on the occasion of the IOC Evaluation Commission visiting his city. The local organising committee was somewhat overwhelmed by the large number of applicants, said Paula Hernandez, COB's responsible for the volunteer programme, to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. "We won't be short of hands, it looks like everyone in Brazil wants to help. "Criteria for being an Olympic volunteer are diverse. Professionals from a wide range of backgrounds will be needed, like media, medical, cooking and so on. Non–professional experience, like being a coach, referee or official at sports games or working in social–cultural events, can be important as well. Speaking a language besides Brazilian Portuguese would be desirable of course, but is not a condition. "There's a lot of jobs. For many of them, like for example working in the Olympic Village, it's necessary to speak another language. But it's no reason for elimination, " Hernandez says. However, the exact criteria for enrolling in the volunteer programme still have to be determined by the COB and the International Olympic Committee, as well as the closing date for application. The only strict condition yet to be known is a minimum age of 18 years. After being selected, the volunteers will be specially trained and prepared for their specific role during the event. Experience in past events could also count. The 20, 000 volunteers, chosen from 80, 000 applicants, that helped organise the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, had a great share in the eventual success, especially regarding the happy and joyful atmosphere in Rio during the event. In their colourful lemon and lime green and yellow uniforms, together with an almost eternal smile on the face, they seemed to be everywhere around the city and sporting grounds, helping athletes, officials, spectators or just lost tourists wherever they could. For Rio 2016, the army of volunteers will have more or less the same kind of function, to bring joy and happiness to the world. Towards the 2016 Olympics, Rio will have numerous dress rehearsals in upcoming years. In 2011, the city will host the 15th Military Games, two years later there will be the Confederations Cup, as a warm up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. For the World Cup, the volunteer programme is handled by the world football governing body FIFA. For the event in Brazil, the procedure hasn't opened yet. As a matter of fact, the procedure for next year's World Cup in South Africa has just closed in October. Indeed, 67, 999 candidates from 170 countries have applied for a job during next summer's footballing fiesta. From those, only 15, 000 will be selected to participate in the event next year. For the 2014 Brazil World Cup, the procedure is not expected to be opened before 2012. More information on the 2016 Rio Games and its volunteer–programme can be found at www. rio2016. org. br. About Joost de JongJoost de Jong writes on Brazil, business and sports. He spends his time between The Netherlands and Brazil and has also lived in Spain. He has published numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, including Algemeen Dagblad, Sport & Strategie, Sport International, Voetbal International and De Zaak (the Netherlands), de Morgen (Belgium), Diário de Natal (Brazil) and Metro International. He is also editor in chief of the coaching magazine NLCoach. For further information on Revista Brasil, visit www. revistabrasil. eu, call +31 6 5468 7502 or e–mail joost@revistabrasil. eu.

Additional information