London 2012: Q. You see two men holding hands. Do you: a) Panic...

Training scheme for Olympics volunteers about how not to insult visitors to the Games is branded insulting

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The Independent Online

You're at the Olympic stadium, volunteering at the London Games. Someone complains to you that two men are holding hands. It is making them feel very uncomfortable. What do you do?

Mercifully, the organisers of London 2012 have been considering such questions. The 70,000 volunteers who will work at the Olympics venues this summer have received training on how to deal with this and other such delicate matters as gender, race and disability, in a "diversity and inclusion quiz", which many have branded "pointless", "patronising" and "insulting".

With regard to same-gender handholding, the correct answer, reassuringly, is neither "politely ask the couple to stop holding hands" or "call the person a homophobic idiot". Rather, one should "explain that there is huge diversity of people at the London 2012 Games, which includes gay, lesbian and bisexual couples".

Olympic volunteers, known as "gamesmakers", were given the questions to answer at training sessions that have been taking place in recent weeks at Wembley Arena.

Other questions include how to direct someone to the toilets if you can't tell what gender they are. Answer: direct them to both male and female – and the disabled one too – just to be on the safe side.

"We went in and they told us how lucky we were to be there. How the Games were all about us. There were practically fireworks going off," said one gamesmaker, from Essex. "Then we're doing a questionnaire on how to talk to disabled people. It was a bit silly."

"There's quite a lot to learn," said another attendee, who will be working at the press centre at the Velodrome come July. "But I think I already knew not to call a hijab a scarf."

Others said they had found the whole thing so funny that they got the questions wrong on purpose. Games organisers said the quiz was not primarily to educate people in how to approach diversity, but rather to see how volunteers would respond to such situations.

A spokesman for London 2012 said: "There are many different roles involved and the role plays were to assist volunteers and give them an outline of the whole of the London 2012 event."

What would you do? The questionnaire


Q. You are chatting to a fellow gamesmaker at the security line. They point out a woman in front of you who is wearing a scarf on her head and remark: "Surely she won't be allowed to wear that in the venue!" What do you say?

a) Ignore the comment and change the subject.

b) Point out that the woman is wearing a hijab, which is a form of Muslim headwear some women choose to wear as part of their faith.

c) Wait until your first shift with the colleague wearing the headscarf and raise your issue in front of them and your fellow team members.

Gender/Gender Identity

Q. A spectator approaches you asking politely where the nearest toilets are. You are not sure if the spectator is male or female. What do you do?

a) Panic – you are not qualified to make this decision. Explain politely that you do not know.

b) Just in case, tell them where the male, female and accessible toilets are.

c) Ask the spectator politely if they are male or female, so that you can direct them appropriately.

Answers: 1)b, 2)b