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Help is at hand, as volunteers hit streets
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The first of 400,000 volunteers will start work today at more than 200 temporary tourist information centers across Beijing.

The city's Olympic organizers will use 550 such facilities to provide visitors with information on travel, dealing with emergencies and translation services.

The mobile centers - the cube-shaped booths are on wheels so they can be moved to where they are most needed - are located near the exits to subway stations and at tourist sites. Each has the word "Volunteer" printed in large red letters on the front.

Each of the help centers will be manned by between four and eight volunteers dressed in blue-and-white uniforms, the organizers said.

English-speaking volunteers will also be stationed at post offices and gas stations from the start of next month, they said.

By the time the Olympics gets under way, 500,000 volunteers will be working throughout the city - including 100,000 at sports venues - each of whom was chosen from the more than 1.1 million applications received from China and overseas.

Beijing-born Teng Luning, who works for a foreign company in the capital, will be among the selected half a million.

"What has surprised me most is seeing how many older people have volunteered, which shows just how much passion they have for the Games."

Meanwhile, a new multilingual hotline service - 12308 - manned by 1,400 operators, also opens today, to provide information for Olympic visitors. Also, athletes will also have access to a translation service covering 44 languages provided by Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Later this week, a group of 300 journalism students from foreign universities will arrive in Beijing.

During the Games they will work as Olympic News Service volunteers.

(China Daily July 1, 2008)


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