Almaty 2022 Olympic Hosting Bid Includes Thousands Ready to Volunteer

“Most other competitions are individual achievements, but the Olympic Games are something that belongs to everybody,” Scott Hamilton,  American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist, is quoted to have said.

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Eric Schwartz, a senior lecturer of sports management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, reports in a recent article in Sports Features on an important factor in successful organisation of any major sports events today – volunteers.

According to surveys, the overwhelming majority of Kazakh people, almost 80 percent, support the idea of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Almaty.

Andrey Kryukov, vice-chairman of the Almaty 2022 bid, emphasises the role of young people and their support in advancing the Kazakh city’s Olympic dream.

“We have 350,000 students in the city and these are official figures every year in Almaty. Fifty thousand have already registered to be volunteers for the University Games,” he says.

Marken Akhmatov, head of the Almaty Department for Youth Policy Affairs, recently announced the creation of a volunteer corps named “Almaty Zhastary.” Akhmatov explained “what we are trying to do is to unite all volunteers and volunteer organisations under one roof and create a database that will match the volunteers with government agencies, public associations and business structures.”

He added that the city needs a single database containing information about all volunteers based in Almaty ahead of the 28th Winter University Games in 2017.The experience achieved thencan be keyto a successful mobilisationofvolunteer movement for Almaty 2022 should the bid becomes successful.

From a cultural standpoint, a volunteering tradition has had its roots it Kazakh society for many centuries, if not millennia.Based on a philosophy of volunteerism is the old Kazakh tradition of “Asar.” It literally means support without involving any material interest and often involved the mutual help of neighbours in any efforts in a village that would need several people to accomplish, like construction of a house, cleaning and festival arranging efforts.

According to Sports Features, Kryukov seems very confident speaking about the Almaty 2022 bid. “We do not need to build the city, and we do not need to bring volunteers. We [already] have a volunteer movement, which has about 20,000 people.”

Looking at the most recent Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games – Sochi 2014 – they needed a team of 25,000 volunteers to make those Olympic Games successful. Around 1,700 volunteers came from more than 60 countries including Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the United States.

A study conducted by Demoscope and quoted in the bid book says that “3 percent [of the city residents] expressed a wish to work as volunteers,” and widening that analysis to the population of Kazakhstan (17.1 million) would net over 510,000 volunteers. This means the country has enough people who are ready to assist Almaty in welcoming the world to the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Various campaigns are conducted by volunteers on a regular basis in order to promote the application of the Almaty 2022 bid. Volunteers launched white balls into the sky, performed a dance, and lined up in a live composition as the inscription “Almaty-2022” and a huge pulsating heart.

“We are confident that our guys will be able to adequately organise volunteer work at the Olympics. One of the important aspects, which draws attention of the IOC members when considering the application, is the presence of volunteers. We have them and they are ready to provide their assistance. In addition, after the Universiad and EXPO 2017, young people will get great experience that can be applied in 2022,” said the leader of the movement Volunteer 2017, Kairzhan Mendigaliyev.

According to Marina Pochinok, workforce vice-president of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, “the volunteers are the people who bring the beauty and special atmosphere to the Games. … These are special people who can radiate this atmosphere to their clients and really create very successful and very friendly Games.”

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