Off to a great start: 2,500 volunteers attend kick-off event

Published on 5 June 2022

For the European Championships Munich 2022, Olympiahalle will be home to the stars and starlets of the gymnastics scene. A good two months before the start of competition, it welcomed the secret stars of the event. Around 2,500 volunteers followed the invitation to their official kick-off on 4 June, and thousands more tuned in via livestream.

Without their helping hands, a multi-sport event of this magnitude would not be possible: More than 6,000 volunteers will be in action at the European Championships and take on a special role in their organisation. On Saturday, they started their journey and took centre stage. This afternoon was all about them. At the official kick-off, the volunteers were introduced to Munich 2022, familiarised with their roles, and informed about organisational procedures. Later, at the get-together, they got to know their divisional managers and fellow volunteers in a relaxed atmosphere.

But first things first: It was obvious from the start that there was no lack of enthusiasm and motivation. Packed ranks, volunteers of all ages, old hands in business and rookies looking to gain experience - they were all selected from 13,000 applications and are eager to be part of and contribute to the biggest multi-sport event since the 1972 Olympic Games.

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The backbone of Munich 2022

"This is quite a sight for me. I don't normally stand here on the stage, this is where our stars belong, but today this stage is yours. You are the stars today, our volunteers," said Marion Schöne, Managing Director of Olympiapark München GmbH, welcoming all those present and all viewers in front of the screens. "What is awaiting you? I don't think it can be stressed enough that the European Championships are the biggest multi-sport event - in Munich, in Bavaria, in Germany - since 1972."

According to Schöne, an event this big can only be managed with the help of volunteers, and so she added: "We need you. You are ultimately the backbone of the European Championships. You will also be the face of the European Championships because you are ever-present as volunteers and will support wherever you can. Without you, nothing would work."

The volunteers can expect a wide variety of tasks in 16 operational areas, with over 40,000 shifts allocated across them. From spectator services to venue management, from anti-doping controls to sports competition - they contribute significantly to the complex operation of Munich 2022. Christina Hering can testify to how important this is from an athlete’s point of view. 

An athlete's point of view

An athlete's point of view

"I have had the pleasure of being part of some big events. This smooth process, which allows you as an athlete to concentrate on your athletic performance - that is what you are there for - is super comfortable," says the 13-time German champion in 800 metres. "The fact that you don't notice the volunteers is perfect because that means you don't have to worry about anything, it is all working. That is only possible at these major events if you have the hard-working volunteers everywhere who make sure that you are at the start on time and also find your way back to the warm-up area. However, I guess I can manage here," smiled the Munich-born runner, who is training in Olympiapark.

Fellow Class of 22 athletes Oliver Zeidler as well as Franca and Simon Henseleit were also on site and shared their perspective on Munich 2022. For Zeidler, these are special European Championships, as the hometown hero not only hopes to defend his title in the single sculls at the Regatta Centre in Oberschleißheim, but also to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Hans-Johann Färber, who won Olympic gold here 50 years ago. 

Three extraordinary alumni

Speaking of the Olympics: A special view on volunteering was provided by three alumni from 1972, who were greeted with resounding applause. Barbara Mehling-Bratz, Axel Birkmann and Walter Heiß will again suit up as volunteers at the European Championships.

"I was a hostess back then and Munich thrived on the Olympics. I was still in secondary school and was totally proud that I had the opportunity to be a hostess and I am just as proud that I can be part again now," said Mehling-Bratz, and shared the essentials from her wealth of experience with this year's volunteers: "Enthusiasm for sport, team spirit above all, being able to motivate and inspire others and the Olympic spirit: the most important thing is to take part.”

Heiß still has his 1972 suit hanging in his wardrobe. However, he will get a new outfit for his re-appearance in the VIP area of the Regatta Centre. The Munich 2022 uniform was officially presented to the volunteers, based on the light blue of the Olympic Games, which also runs through the Munich 2022 design.

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Embracing the heritage of 1972, interpreting it in a modern way and leaving an own legacy: This is what the organisers have set their sights on. Sustainability is also a key concern of the volunteer programme. In addition to drinking bottles and water fountains, the accreditations are also designed to avoid and reduce waste. Instead of regular lanyards, a world first from BLACKROLL® will be used. The fitness band will not only enrich the volunteers’ sports programme after the event but will also come in handy during their breaks. Hands-on exercises for stretching the fascia chains were already given to those present and tried out collectively. So, if you see volunteers stretching, don't be surprised, just join in. After all, a little exercise won’t hurt.

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European ChampionshipsVolunteersMunich 2022