Olympic volunteers in Rio complain about their working conditions

Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Aug. 5, 2016. Photo: Flickr/U.S. Army


By Natalia Ghincul
Around 15,000 Olympic volunteers are not showing up for their duties after complaints about food, schedule and long working hours.

More than 50,000 volunteers from across the world agreed to work at the Rio Olympics, performing a variety of duties including chauffeuring athletes and officials around Rio de Janeiro, checking tickets, staffing the information desks and helping visitors find their way to the sporting venues. At the moment, many of them are reportedly quitting over long hours shifts, lack of food and chaotic schedules.

According to the New York Daily News, Rio organisers admitted earlier this week that “of the 50,000 volunteers involved in the delivery of the Olympic Games, we have an average attendance rate of just over 70%”.  Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada says that the organisers are trying to fix the problems with the volunteers: "We've got a task force we are working on for volunteers, and in the same way we are now fully focused to fine-tune the volunteer programs.”

IOC director of communications Mark Adams called volunteers “the backbone of the Games”, admitting that: “We could do it a different way. But I think volunteers are something we really do appreciate."

Luis Moreira, a former volunteer who had previously helped with ticketing, told CBC news: “Many volunteers had to quit because they had to work two weeks in a row, schedules were messed up, lots of people quit because of the food: they were told to work eight, nine hours and were only provided with a little snack."

The Telegraph sports news correspondent, Ben Rumsby, writes  that the anti-doping control in Rio has suffered problems due to the shortage of volunteers and staff members. According to the Telegraph, volunteers are often employed to accompany athletes during the doping controls in order to ensure validity and transparency. Mario Andrada admitted that some security lapses in the doping control had occurred due to the lack of training of the volunteers: “Not all the corridors leading to the doping areas were cleared. The volunteers were not firm enough and some people were very close to the areas that shouldn’t be entered. We corrected this issue.”


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