Hangzhou- Chinese Authorities assigned up to one million volunteers to serve members of delegations participating in the G20 Summit and around 4,500 local and foreign journalists who arrived in Hangzhou last Friday.
A source close to Hangzhou Mayor Zhang Hongming told Asharq Al-Awsat that the number of volunteers reached 760,000 and almost one million, affirming that the number was not exaggerated.
Volunteers spread all over the city starting from the airport, all the way to hotels licensed to host official delegations and journalists; other volunteers stayed in the streets to make sure they are clean and to give directions for lost tourists.
A volunteer at the airport said that preparations for the summit started months ago and that in April she expressed willingness to serve the summit. The volunteer, a university student who speaks English fluently, said: “We have received training on security and safety procedures, the economic and historic importance of the city in addition to speaking adequately to visitors and serving them.”
Officials in Hangzhou reported to Chinese News Agency Xinhua that thousands of volunteers are already experienced in this field for being part of organizing the Olympics, Expo 2010, Asian Games and China International Cartoon and Animation Festival. Officials stated in a press release held last week that “the volunteering culture has become an indispensable mechanism to support society and to promote the culture of generosity and hospitality that makes the city stand out.”
Another volunteer, who preferred to be called Mary, said that Hangzhou has proven itself to be a unique city by hosting the G20 Summit.
A source at Xinhua told Asharq Al-Awsat that up to 3,700 people were hired by the government to manage the G20 website and media center. The media center is located in the International Expo Center, which covers an area of 11,000 square meters and can accommodate a maximum of 5,000 people.
Despite efforts exerted by concerned authorities, journalists still criticized the poor information provided on the summit program and leaders’ meetings.