Even Volunteers Don't Want to Show Up for the Olympics

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According to former International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, volunteers are invaluable at the Games. “Volunteers are true Olympians. They transmit the true spirit of the Olympic Games,” Rogge said in 2012. Unfortunately, many volunteers this year appear to have ignored this and said “fuck it” instead.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, organizers are having trouble ensuring that Olympic venues are staffed with enough volunteers. “Volunteers are one of the things we are fine-tuning,” a spokesman for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee said. At some venues, he said, only 20 percent of volunteers have actually shown up.


Apparently, some got their hands on that sweet Olympic swag and immediately peaced out:

Volunteers report that numerous would-be co-workers have been no-shows since collecting work outfits and complimentary wristwatches, leaving venues short-staffed.

Rio organizers told the Associated Press, however, that the attendance rate is just fine, thank you very much.

“Of the 50,000 volunteers involved in the delivery of the Olympic Games, we have an average attendance rate of just over 70 percent,” organizers said. “This number allows us to operate at a comfortable level as some volunteers not showing up was factored into our plans.” (It’s worth noting that in 2014, when bragging about the 240,000 volunteer applications they received, organizers said that 70,000 volunteers were “required to stage a successful Olympic Games.”)


The fact that volunteers aren’t showing up isn’t exactly surprising. After all, their only “payment” comes in the form of food while they work. Compared to the reward for the other “volunteer”—that is, the IOC president—who’s apparently given a $250,000 annual “allowance,” while other executives receive $900 per diems, it’s no wonder the unpaid armies are shrugging their shoulders. (Getting attacked while traveling on a bus probably didn’t help, either.)

But according to Mark Adams, who heads up communications for the IOC, volunteers should grateful. “They get other kind of perks of course and they get the perk of being at the games,” he told the AP. “They get a great deal out of being volunteers and being a member of the Olympic movement for that short period is tremendously rewarding.” Ah, yes. So tremendously rewarding.


Meanwhile, the Games are also battling food and drink shortages, exploding bags, sick athletes, and weird green pools. Isn’t international cooperation grand?

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Sophie Kleeman

Sophie is a former news editor at Gizmodo.