A concert for 2004 volunteers

The organizers of the 2004 Athens Olympics and Paralympic Games have called on three popular performers equipped with the goods for large-scale events to help promote the concept of volunteerism and ultimately secure the numbers needed to get the Olympiad’s volunteer program rolling in full force. The performers, popular vocalist Alkistis Protopsalti and renowned tenor Marios Frangoulis, as well as the influential veteran singer-songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos, will all be performing at a free concert at the Olympic Stadium’s basketball court at 8 p.m. next Wednesday night, on the day when official application forms for prospective volunteers become available. The well-known artists have volunteered their time and talent toward the event and will not be paid for performing. An estimated 60,000 volunteers will be needed for both the Olympic and Paralympic games, organizers have said. To date, close to 32,000 individuals – locals and members of Greece’s diaspora – as well as 485 agencies and non-governmental organizations have expressed interest, Marton Simitsek, an executive director of Athens 2004, the Games coordinating committee, told a press conference in Athens yesterday. The volunteer program’s strategic plan, Simitsek noted, was based on experience accumulated from the past three Olympiads. Over 34,000 volunteers were needed at the Barcelona Games in 1992, almost double that figure were recruited in Atlanta four years later, and 47,000 in Sydney last year. Simitsek, the committee’s top-ranking official for the volunteer program, characterized the public reaction so far as «very encouraging.» Doing her bit for the cause, the best-selling singer Protopsalti, who will be performing next Wednesday, told yesterday’s press conference that the 2004 Athens Olympics offered Greeks a unique opportunity to stage an event they could remain proud of in the future. Also, it was the nation’s chance, she said, to project its modern face to the world. Echoing the singer’s remarks, the popular actor and TV games host Spyros Papadopoulos, who will be the evening’s presenter, said the Olympics offered Greeks the chance to prove their worth and ultimately feel proud. Referring to the infrastructural improvements which the country stood to gain as a result of hosting the Olympics, Papadopoulos cited a recent trip of his to Barcelona and a series of impressive projects he saw which had been constructed for that city’s Olympic Games. «If we feel it personally – because the Olympics don’t belong to Mrs Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, (PM Costas) Simitis, or the opposition, they’re ours. If we stand up to the task and stage the Olympics as we should, and, naturally we have the ability, then, on the day after, apart from the projects, I believe we will see ourselves in another way,» Papadopoulos stressed. The free concert’s other performers, Savvopoulos and Frangoulis did not attend the press conference. However, in a recorded video, Frangoulis, who was abroad, said he felt proud to be supporting the volunteer program. Personal interviews with applicants are scheduled to be held over the current year before the selected volunteers begin training and participation in test events next year.

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