18,000 volunteers serve in Beijing 2022 as ‘heroes behind scenes’

By Xu Keyue, Zhang Changyue and Leng Shumei (Global Times) 09:12, February 18, 2022

Apart from athletes who sweat in the arena, a grand sports event is hard to hold smoothly without volunteers. A total of about 18,000 volunteers are serving the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, 94 percent of whom are under the age of 35, who are being hailed as "heroes behind the scenes."

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games revealed the data at a press conference on Thursday and noted that, during the Games, volunteers in Beijing accounted for 63 percent, those from Zhangjiakou accounted for 25 percent, and the other venue of Yanqing district accounted for 12 percent.

These volunteers provide services in 41 areas like competitions, venue management, translation and news reports, according to the press conference.

As the Winter Olympics draw to a close, Yan Jiarong, spokesperson for the committee, said that the Beijing Winter Olympics are the world's first multi-sport event to be held as scheduled since the outbreak of COVID-19, so the organization and operation of the Games required highly professional "heroes" behind the scenes.

The committee pays tribute to every Winter Olympics participant, said Yan.

For the first time in Olympic history, the committee set up volunteer homes at both competition and non-competition venues, according to the press conference.

In volunteer homes, volunteers can rest, communicate, study and hold group activities like birthday parties and celebrations for the traditional Lantern Festival which fell on February 15.

During the celebration to the festival, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach expressed his gratitude to the volunteers when he spent time with some of them.

"Thank you, you are wonderful, you are doing a very important job, if I wave at the closing ceremony, it will be waving at you. I salute you." Bach said on the day, media reported.

Some volunteers reached by the Global Times on Thursday shared their stories during the Games.

A volunteer surnamed Liu who provides language services at the Main Media Center recalled an interesting experience, saying that "a foreign reporter from Tokyo Sports asked me if I felt bored in the closed loop and I told him not at all! Because this is perhaps the only time in my life to be an Olympic volunteer," said Liu excitedly.

"This Japanese reporter and the photography staff were friendly. I hope they could remember the hospitality of volunteers here," noted Liu.

Another volunteer at the Main Media Center, who studies Russian at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said she gave a scarf that bore multiple language versions of "Hello BFSU" as a gift to a reporter from Russia.

Many other warm and friendly interactions between volunteers and athletes have been circulating on international social media platforms, touching global netizens.

One example was a video posted by US athlete Tessa Maud, in which she said she was moved to tears by a volunteer who greeted her saying "Welcome to China" at the opening ceremony of the Games.

The volunteer named Sun Zeyufrom Tsinghua University told the Global Times in a recent interview that he did not expect that a simple greeting could create such a great power of touching, and this made his experience as a volunteer more memorable.

At a press conference on Monday, Japanese renowned figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu also thanked volunteers and other working staff at the Games who contributed to the sport of figure skating.

Ren Ziwei, a dual gold medalist in short-track speed skating at Beijing 2022, told China Central Television on February 7 that a group of volunteers kept singing Ode to the Motherland, a famous patriotic song in China, to encourage them after their first award ceremony.

Ren said the volunteers' singing and the strength they passed on to him inspired him to do his best in the final of the men's 1,000 meters on Monday.

The Chinese volunteers were also impressed by athletes' friendship. "I was very touched by their willingness to understand and respect our culture and their affirmation of everyone's commitment to the Games, including volunteers," said a volunteer surnamed Wang from Beijing Foreign Studies University majoring in French.

At Thursday's press conference, the organizing committee said the closing ceremony of the Games will continue the streamlined style of the opening ceremony, presenting Beijing, the only "dual Olympic city," to the world.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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