Not all of the nation's Olympic heroes fly over hurdles, snatch gold medals from a table tennis rally or somersault to stardom from 10-meter high diving boards.
Yesterday, the capital called on the unsung champions who will ensure that the 2008 Beijing Games pass without a hitch -- the volunteers.
The "Beijing Olympic Volunteers Program" was officially launched yesterday by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).
Some 100,000 volunteers from home and abroad will assist in the smooth-running of the games, engaging in various kinds of jobs, such as safety controls, media operations and welcoming thousands of international visitors.
"The Beijing volunteers will be part of the community of millions of other volunteers who have served the Olympic Games over the last century," said Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president at the launching ceremony.
"Volunteering also gives personal enrichment. It is a once-in-a-life-time experience, and a wonderful human adventure," Rogge added.
According to officials from the Beijing Olympic Volunteers Co-ordination Group Office, 100,000 volunteers will be needed before and during the 2008 Beijing Games, 70,000 for the summer games and 30,000 for the Paralympics.
"Four volunteer projects will be included in the program -- the "Towards Olympics" Voluntary Service Project, the Olympic Games-time Volunteer Project, the Paralympic Games-time Volunteer Project and the BOCOG Pre-Games Volunteer Project," explained Guan Chenghua, head of the Co-ordination Group Office. Recruitment will take place from August 2006 to April 2008.
"During the Games, we need qualified volunteers, who should have some foreign language skills," he said. "They also should be aged 18 before April 2008."
At the ceremony, Liu Qi, the president of BOCOG, stressed the importance of volunteers.
"A high-level organization of and the services provided by the volunteers are important foundations that guarantee a high level Olympic Games, which Beijing has promised to host," Liu said. "We believe that the Chinese volunteers will go hand-in-hand with their counterparts from all over the world to interpret their own understanding of the Olympic spirit and to leave a unique legacy to the Olympic Movement."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a letter of congratulations to the BOCOG on their volunteers program.
"The Olympic Games to be held in Beijing offers unprecedented opportunities for voluntary action and recognition," said Annan in his letter.
At the ceremony, Rogge and Liu jointly unveiled the program logo.
The logo is designed in a traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy style. On the top, two red heart-shaped rings tied together symbolize Beijing Olympic volunteers providing heart-to-heart services to athletes, members of the "Olympic Family", and all visitors and guests.
The three dancing human figures below represent the volunteers and their devotion to the people they are to serve. With the integrated English word "Volunteer", the logo is in line with the official emblem of the 2008 Beijing Games -- Dancing Beijing.
(China Daily June 6, 2005)