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It's Time to Big Up and Bonus the Games Makers at London 2012

Posted: 10/08/2012 11:20

The first time volunteers were used at the Olympic games was at London in 1948 so it's only appropriate that at the London 2012 games over 70,000 volunteered to help out. Olympic volunteering is coming home.

The 'Games Makers' have staffed the venues, directed the public to train stations, advised people on how to find the venues, raked the volleyball sand, and collected tennis balls missed by Roger Federer. This army of volunteers have given their time for free and truly made the games happen.

And weren't they great? When I arrived at Lord's for the Olympic archery I had never been greeted by so many friendly smiling faces at a sporting event. It was as if the gene of British cynicism had been removed from all of these smiling volunteers, waving big rubber hands to guide lost tourists towards the cricket ground.

The hit of the Olympic park, and area around Westfield shopping centre, has been the Games Makers sitting on high chairs - like the chair a tennis umpire uses to watch over the game, only in this case they are able to survey a crowd of fans streaming from one event to another.

Seemingly without training, the volunteers using the chairs have become comedians, cheerleaders, and cultural commentators. I've seen them up on the chairs leading cheers from the passing crowd, calling out results, commenting on great costumes, and welcoming people from all over the world in their own language.

The volunteers were all expected to give up at least ten days of their time with no pay and no expenses - if they live a long way from the Olympic park then it's their own problem getting into work. Yet thousands have done it and thrived on being an integral part of the games.

Perhaps the London organising committee (LOCOG) could find it in them to give a surprise bonus to the Game Makers who made these games so special? LOCOG Chief Executive Paul Deighton has already announced that he will give his £1m bonus to charity - surely there are other executives and employees expecting a bonus too?

Add all this together and it can't be too difficult to send every volunteer a £100 thank you cheque? I might even choose a random Games Maker this weekend myself and give them £100 of my own cash just to say thank you for making this the greatest Olympic games ever.

It is time for LOCOG - and all of us in London - to thank the volunteers for making these games special - offer your thanks online using the hashtag #bigupthevolunteers. As the beach volleyball commentator was saying a couple of days ago: "They are giving up their time and volunteering to rake the sand, but they do have a front row seat for the entire tournament."

 

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