Lord Coe: Volunteers will make London 2012 “great” Olympics

LONDON 2012 chief Lord Sebastian Coe says the success of the Olympics will be judged on the volunteers who staff it.

Around 70,000 people needed for hundreds of roles during the six weeks of the Olympics and Paralympics in 18 months’ time.

The interview process will begin tomorrow, with the ExCel in Royal Docks one of nine venue across the country hosting talks with the 100,000-plus people who have applied to volunteer.

At a media event this morning, Lord Coe and 2012 ambassador Sally Gunnell met some of the prospective candidates and gave their own insight into how important they can be.

“The interviews will help us to bring probably the most important group of people,” he said. “People are expecting the best of the best from London. This won’t be brought together by accident. This is a very important moment. I know we always say that but this really will define the DNA of our Games in barely a year and a half. Volunteers are the difference between a good games and a great games.”

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A team of 2,500 have been put together to interview potential volunteers in role including interpreting, first aid, checking tickets and giving travel advice.

Former hurdler Gunnell said volunteers were crucial to her gold medal success in Barcelona in 1992.

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“I remember arriving at the airport and being totally lost - I had no idea where I was going or how to get to the Olympic Village. Suddenly there was a smiling volunteer in front of me who spoke English and ended my panic. For an athlete the memories they will take away are those smiley people who guided them in the right direction.”

Over the next 14 months 300 people will be interviewed every day across the country. Around 40 per cent of applicants have never volunteered for anything before.

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