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Taiwan volunteers welcome for Beijing Games

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 31 (Reuters) China will welcome volunteers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and the rest of the world to help out at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, organisers said today.

Often described as the unsung heroes of the Olympics, the 70,000 volunteers recruited for the Beijing Games will be involved in a wide range of work from helping the media to directing crowds at venues.

''The plans will be announced in a big global launch in August this year,'' Wang Minghao, director of the volunteer programme, told a news conference.

''We welcome volunteers from all walks of life from both home and abroad and that includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.'' While Hong Kong and Macau are governed by China under the ''One nation, two systems'' formula, Taiwan is considered a breakaway province and there are still no permanent air links between the self-ruled island and the mainland.

Organisers of the 2004 Athens Games had great success involving the Greek diaspora in their volunteer programme, with their language skills of particular value.

''We will not only adopt the Athens practice of inviting Greeks from all around the world,'' Wang added. ''We will also welcome volunteers no matter what race, what nationality and what religion they believe in.

''If they have the enthusiasm to help out at the Games, we will create an equal opportunity for them to take part in the programme.'' Wang also announced a competition to find a slogan for the volunteer programme.

REUTERS PM DS1057

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