They are normally the face of any multi-discipline event. Their unbridled enthusiasm and willingness to put the visitors, athletes, officials or the media at ease by extending a helping hand is a major factor in determining the eventual success of an event.

In Delhi too, the volunteers, men and women, boys and girls, young and old, have been simply superb in delivering the expected goods.

Working under the banner, Delhi United, this work force has been a saving grace of the Commonwealth Games, which otherwise has hogged headlines for all wrong reasons.

Responding positively to the service put up by the volunteers, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, Michael Fennell was all praise for them while making his opening remarks at his customary press conference on Sunday.

“Most of the volunteers have been very positive. Everybody has commended their willingness to help and cooperate. They go overboard to help the visitors and that has been fantastic,” he said.

Harsh conditions

However, enquiries made over the last two days across several venues of the Games, against the background of the impromptu remarks of the CGF chief, have unearthed that the volunteers face several hardships in discharging their duties.

“I normally have a quick bite before leaving home but have just given up eating (at the venue) for the last four to five days,” said Sruthi (name changed at her request), a Delhi University student.

At lawn bowls, things went out of hand as several volunteers fell sick after taking stale food a few days ago. The volunteers are overworked. Normally supposed to work on a shift of eight hours, most of them end up working right through the day.

Accentuating their problems further is the vanishing act produced by a large chunk of their colleagues, who got into this taskforce on recommendations.

Faulty procedure

The selection process of the volunteers, observed some supervisors, was not conducted properly.

“Most of the volunteers had just three sessions of training, which itself was mismanaged. Worse, many identified as really good, could not make it because there was no police verification done despite early enrolment,” said a supervisor.

And then quite importantly, another deterring factor has been the harassment meted out to them by overzealous security officials, a good example being the boycott by some volunteers from the boxing venue on Monday evening.

“We will pull on, somehow or the other,” said two young volunteers on Monday, displaying the spirit with which they chugged on to provide the Games its only saving grace.

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