Today, 5 December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) joins the international community in celebrating International Volunteer Day. Volunteerism is the very foundation, and also one of the core values of the Olympic Movement. The development of sport, and indeed the very organisation of the Olympic Games and the celebration of all other sports events, big and small, would not be possible without the participation, dedication and commitment of volunteers.
Volunteers, champions of the Games
For each edition of the Games, there are thousands of people, of all ages, cultures and origins, all inspired by the same will to assume their responsibilities and serve with distinction, sharing the same emotions and passion for sport and its ideals of excellence, respect and friendship. “Volunteers are true Olympians. They transmit the true spirit of the Olympic Games”, said IOC President Jacques Rogge, underscoring the role and impact of those whom he also praised as the unsung heroes behind the successful organisation of every Olympic Games.
“As a long-serving volunteer myself, I know that being a volunteer is a life-enriching and fulfilling experience, and a wonderful human adventure. Like the athletes, all volunteers who serve the Olympic Movement are also ‘champions’ in their own right at community, neighbourhood and family levels.”
A large part of the success of the Games is thus attributable to each one of these selfless people. There will be almost 70,000 of them at the London Olympic Games and 1,200 at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in January, all making the Games happen.
Finally, to summarise this essential force which are the volunteers, a quote from a volunteer at the 1996 Atlanta Games: “You become a volunteer not for what you get out of it, but for what you become by doing it.”
UN International Year of Volunteers
This year, International Volunteer Day also marks the 10th anniversary of International Volunteers Year. On this occasion, during its special session, the United Nations will study how to better support volunteers and develop stronger partnerships to this end. Thus, the United Nations will launch the very first State of the World's Volunteerism Report, which “commends the many millions of volunteers working for sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, environmental preservation, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General).