Volunteers have been integral to the success of the Olympic Games since they were first used during the 1948 Games in London and, as the British capital prepares to host the Games once again, the role of Olympic volunteers has never been more important.
London 2012 volunteers are called ‘Games Makers’, as they are helping to make the Games happen. The Games Maker recruitment process began in September 2010, with the London 2012 Organising Committee receiving more than 240,000 applications.
Up to 70,000 people were chosen to become Games Makers and they will take on a wide variety of roles across the Olympic venues during the Games: from welcoming visitors to transporting athletes, helping out behind the scenes in the Technology team and making sure the results get displayed as quickly and accurately as possible.
"Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Olympic Games and part of the DNA of thousands of people in this country,” said Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, when the volunteer programme was launched. “The 1948 Olympic Games in London saw the birth of the Games volunteer programme, and we are determined that London 2012 will be a wonderful opportunity for tens of thousands of people to help deliver the most spectacular Games ever.”
The volunteers will be easy to spot during the Games thanks to their distinctive uniforms, which draw on British heritage in shades of regal purple and poppy red.
They have been influenced by the historic Grenadier Guards uniform and British sporting heritage including the London 1948 Games, the Wimbledon tennis championships and the Henley Regatta.
“The volunteers are the face of the Games and they will turn what could be a good Games, into a great Games,” said Paul Deighton, London 2012 CEO, when the uniforms were unveiled. “They will be high profile in London and in our venues across the UK at Games time and so it’s important they look the part.
“Delivering the Games is hard work and so the uniform needs to be functional, however we also want our teams to wear it with pride.”
Volunteers also play an integral role in the Olympic Movement, with each IOC member representing the IOC in a voluntary capacity.