Page last updated at 05:42 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 06:42 UK

Olympic organisers reverse under-18 volunteers ban

By Adrian Warner
BBC News, London

Lord Coe speaking to schoolchildren in Haringey
Youth Mayor of Newham wrote to Lord Coe asking him to reconsider the plan

Olympic organisers have made a U-turn on their plan to bar under-18s from becoming volunteers for the 2012 Games, BBC London has learned.

Organisers had set a minimum age of 18 as a recruitment drive began for 70,000 volunteers including marshals, ticket inspectors and first aiders.

The plan was criticised by teenagers, including the young mayor of Newham, who urged Lord Coe to rethink the ban.

London 2012 has now said it is "looking at opportunities for those under 18".

Young Mayor Kaycee de Belen, 16, had written to the 2012 chief Lord Coe to urge a rethink of the policy - which was introduced to comply with laws on child protection and working hours - saying it would deny thousands of teenagers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

U-turn over 2012 youth volunteers

A spokeswoman for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) said: "We have set a general entry point at 18 years. However in line with our vision to inspire young people, we are also looking at opportunities for those under 18.

"We will happily share this work and take it forward with the youth mayor of Newham and other individuals to ensure we deliver our vision," she added.

Organisers of London 2012 had originally said the only under-18s involved would be ball boys and girls at the Olympic tennis events at Wimbledon.

Before the rethink Miss de Belen, from Stratford, criticised the plan saying: "Local young people know the area best and have a range of language skills which makes us ideal Olympic volunteers.

"I hope the organisers will reconsider and find a way to avoid causing a lot of disappointment to people whose 18th birthday comes after 1 January 2012."

Vancouver had a special scheme for 15 to 19-year-olds at the Winter Olympics in February 2010 and the minimum age for volunteers at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester was 16 years.

After pitching the London Olympics as being crucial to the youth of Britain during the bid in 2005, the issue was threatening to become a major embarrassment to the London 2012 team and threatened to overshadow the launch of the volunteer programme this summer.

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Age limit restricts 2012 helpers
01 May 10 |  London

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