Beijing volunteers count down for big day

July 17th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 17 (IANS) Grandpa Shang Muzhou knows better than anyone the benefits of morning exercise. The 84-year-old is one among the 74,615 volunteers selected for the Beijing Olympic Games starting Aug 8. “I use dumbbells to build up my arms and harden my belly. Being chosen as an Olympic volunteer is heaven’s reward for my consistent lifestyle,” the 84-year-old said.

“The 1.12 million Olympic volunteer applicants and 2.07 million city volunteer applicants are an inestimable asset to Beijing,” Olympic volunteers chief Liu Jian was quoted as saying by China Daily Thursday.

In December, Beijing enforced its first volunteer service law, and at the same time founded a designated post-Olympics volunteer support fund, said Liu, who also chairs the city’s youth league.

A total of 7,600 more volunteers will be based at the six co-host cities.

The Games’ organisers went through several rounds of interviews before selecting a volunteer from every 10 applicants. Even university students had to face fierce competition, Liu said.

“My granddaughter helped me to register the day after applications opened on Aug 28, 2006,” said Shang, who qualified for the post of public address volunteer at the judo competition venue next month.

About 60,000 expatriates and foreigners had also applied to be volunteers, of whom only 935 were chosen, the organisers said.

“All domestic and foreign applicants went through the same screening, interview and final review procedures,” Li Shixin, deputy director of volunteers department, said.

The organising committee has also conducted a 150-day training program for volunteers working in spectator services, media operations, transport and security.

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