Rio de Janeiro games seek diversity in volunteers
RIO DE JANEIRO -- The Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics want diversity in the ranks as they begin the search for 70,000 volunteers.
Organizers are looking for 45,000 volunteers for the Olympics and 25,000 for the Paralympics. Rio volunteer manager Flavia Fontes said she expected 300,000 people to apply.
"We are recruiting from minority communities definitely, and they are seeing it as a great opportunity of feel part of something very important," Fontes told The Associated Press.
"We are a very mixed society," she said. "You have the blacks, the whites and all the different levels. So what we want to show are people with disabilities, without disabilities, the young, the old. We are spreading the message that this is a games for everybody. Everybody can apply. There are positions for people who speak English, who don't speak English."
Fontes said the final selection would probably include 5 percent non-Brazilians.
Volunteers have to pay for their own housing and transportation to Rio. Fontes said foreigners would have to apply for a visa, though the fee would be waived. She said foreigners also needed to speak "basic Portuguese, but not fluent."
The unpaid volunteers have traditionally provided a savings of millions to organizers. The operating budget for the Rio Games is about $3 billion, which is for running the event itself and does not include infrastructure.
Overall, Rio de Janeiro is expected to spend about $20 billion in the run-up to the games, a mix of public and private money.
"We think there will be a lot of internationals applying because Rio has this kind of image," Fontes said. "A lot of people want to come to South America, and I think Brazil with the Olympics is a great opportunity to come in a safe way with a bit of structure."
Organizers said in a statement that volunteers were expected to handle 500 different functions. They will offer online English courses to those who register, and those selected will receive additional language training.
Volunteers receive a uniform, food and transportation on the days they work. The age minimum is 18, and there is no age maximum.
Registration can be done on the website www.rio2016.com . It will close late in the year with training beginning in the second half of 2015.
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Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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