Some of the most prominent participants of the Games are 70,000 people you may never see on television but cannot miss at the venues – the unpaid volunteers sometimes known as “Games Makers”.
These are the friendly folks who seem to be stationed at every crucial nexus of the London 2012 experience. Just when a visitor feels lost or discombobulated, all it takes is a turn of the head to regain your bearings – with the help of the volunteers.
Their basic uniform is purple and pink, a garish combination a blogger at The Guardian suggested “make the unlucky [volunteers] look less like Olympic staff and more like the henchmen of some comic book supervillain”. But the colour scheme makes them easy to spot.
Many of the volunteers appear to be age 50 or older, but most seem to be college-age, like Arun Casbah, 18, who the other day was placed at a crucial turning in the path of spectators walking from Wembley Central station to Wembley Stadium itself. With a smile and a big foam finger, he got the job done – and was also happy to take pictures for visitors posing atop a London 2012 logo beneath his feet, or even posing for a photo himself.
One volunteer said a visitor should worry about being lost only when he no longer saw anyone in purple and pink. But I would half expect another volunteer in purple and pink to be where I didn’t want to go and guide me back where I ought to be.