As a teenager, Temelidi Yulia watched the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 on TV at home in Russia. Now, a sophomore student at Tsinghua University's School of Social Sciences in Beijing, her wish to be involved in the Winter Olympics has come true, as she is volunteering for the Beijing 2022 Games as a protocol assistant in the international liaison team at the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest. She and her colleagues began work at the stadium on January 30.
According to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the recruitment of volunteers for the Games was completed in October 2021. Some 19,000 volunteers are serving in the three competition zones, respectively in downtown Beijing and its suburban district of Yanqing, as well as in Zhangjiakou, a city in neighboring Hebei Province. They carry out activities such as translation and communication, information management, and COVID-19 prevention.
In 2012, Yulia came to China with her parents. "My mother is Chinese and I developed an interest in Chinese culture at an early age, so I decided to come to China for further education and plan to work in China-Russia trade in the future," she told Beijing Review.
"I used to be worried about being alone, and about not doing well in my studies because of cultural differences, but I actually don't feel like to be an outsider, and have learned to be open to people with different backgrounds," Yulia said.
This is the first time Yulia has worked as a volunteer for an international event. Yulia applied as soon as recruitment of Olympic volunteers began in April 2021. Able to speak Russian, Chinese and English, she was recruited and received three months of training. According to Yulia, the training focused on etiquette and procedures for receiving international athletes and guests. They will work eight hours a day until the end of the Olympics on February 20, and then during the Paralympics, from March 4 to 13.
While the language barrier doesn't present a problem for Yulia, she believes her role brings a number of challenges and requires a great deal of knowledge and coordination.
Given the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the Games take place in a closed-loop management system that separates participants from the general population. This system covers all Olympic venues with those involved transported in dedicated vehicles.
The biggest challenge is to enforce COVID-19 containment measures inside competition zones to keep athletes, volunteers and other personnel safe. It's difficult, but China's measures have been effective, Yulia said.
Duan Yuyu at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing District, Beijing, on February 1 (COURTESY PHOTO)
Also a volunteer at the Games, Duan Yuyu, a senior student at Tsinghua University's School of Aerospace Engineering, works as an anti-doping chaperone at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing.
Since March 2018, the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) has completed over 7,000 doping tests covering all the athletes in preparations for the 2022 Games. According to the agency, there have been no positive tests among these athletes over the past two years. At this year's Games, dried blood spot testing is being used. The testing involves the drawing of a small volume of blood, which is then dried on filter paper, so that the sample is easy to transport, and can be stored for up to 10 years.
China is one of the developers of this innovative anti-doping method and the relevant equipment. The testing has been implemented by CHINADA for all of China's Olympic programs, including 400 samples collected before the Tokyo Summer Games and 300 in the leadup to the Beijing 2022 Games.
Duan told Beijing Review that after being recruited, she and other team members took online courses from the International Testing Agency, and participated in multiple drills and practices in 2021. Last April, she served as a doping control chaperone in a curling test event held at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing.
"Our work includes responding to athletes who require doping tests, notifying them, and accompanying them to the doping control station. In addition to general training, we received a great deal of specialized training, including notification procedures and wording, and how to cope with emergencies," she told Beijing Review.
The chaperones had taken part in several simulation drills before taking up their posts on January 26. According to Duan, the doping control supervisors created diverse scenarios such as athletes getting hurt or refusing to get tested. During the drills, volunteers were required to practice managing these situations in English.
As the volunteer chaperones are required to communicate with athletes face to face, they are undertaking stringent COVID-19 prevention measures. They wear tight-fitting N95 masks and disposable gloves when communicating with athletes. They also undergo a disinfection procedure after each close contact with an athlete.
This is the first time Duan spent Spring Festival working instead of being with her family, as the 2022 Games coincides with the Chinese New Year holiday. On the morning of January 31,
Chinese New Year's Eve, Duan and the other volunteers participated in two drills. All of them then spent the festival together in hotels inside the competition zones, where Olympic organizers hosted several activities.
"I have witnessed the great efforts and devotion of everyone working behind the scenes. It is my wish to complete the task smoothly despite the pandemic," Duan said.
(Print Edition Title: Groomed for Olympic Success)