PhD Yan Wang

Inspire a Generation? Long-term Outcomes of Volunteering in the Olympic Games (2015-2019)


The volunteer service as an important component of Olympics is a guarantee for the successful hosting of the Games. Numbers of Games-time volunteers between 29,000 (Los Angeles, 1984) to 100,000 (Beijing, 2008) have been noted for recent Olympic Games. Legacies of the Games (IOC, 2013) indicate that the Games help to boost confidence in a country seeking to establish its place in the world. Thousands of young volunteers will be forever changed by their experiences. However, relatively little is known about what these detailed volunteer legacy or soft-infrastructure benefits actually are.

Currently research typically focuses on identifying psychological factors which would be loosely summed up under the heading of motivation and the personal rewards/satisfactions which volunteers gain (Bang & Chelladurai, 2003; Dickson et al., 2014; Farrell et al., 1998). This study attempts to propose a framework of volunteering within a specific sport-plus context, while highlighting long-term outcomes in particular. The official statement report by IOC or host cities and the empirical evidence from the previous studies on Olympic volunteers, are used to summarize the mechanism of volunteering, which illustrates where impacts and outcomes occur. Hence, it can offer event stakeholders detailed and tangible information based on the effects and legacies of volunteering.

This research will explore the claims of the sustainable volunteer legacy by using data from online surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews. The research sample will be drawn from the Games-time volunteers of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The online surveys will use validated scales, like the volunteer-specific statements of satisfaction created by Downward (2006) and the intention to continue volunteering scale developed by Garner and Garner (2011).

The legacy promise by London is to inspire a volunteering spirit beyond the Games themselves, especially among young people. The findings of this study will have a number of important implications for future practice in the organizing of the Olympic Games. How the Games indeed inspire a generation of people to take part in local volunteering, cultural, physical activity or civic participation, from casual leisure to volunteering as serious leisure, the skill learning and transfer, and global citizen awareness will be further evaluated.