More than 2,000 office workers, students, housewives and professionals will soon start preparing to share their passion for the Olympics this summer as volunteers for the equestrian events. The 2,400 volunteers, selected from 15,910 applicants, will undergo 'real-combat' training at the competition and service venues at Sha Tin and Beas River from this month. Of them, 1,800 will work for the Olympic Games in August, while the other 600 people will serve at the Paralympic Games in September. Some will work at both events. Horace Yuen Hoi-sing, director of corporate administration of the Hong Kong Equestrian Company, said the volunteer team comprised a good mix of people from all walks of life who had various cultural backgrounds. The company said that about a third of the volunteers had full-time jobs, a third were self-employed, job seekers or retired people, and the rest were students. There are twice as many females as males. 'One of the major concerns for us in recruitment is the person's availability during the events period ... We have many student volunteers as they will have a free hand to help during the summer vacation,' Mr Yuen said. Over the past two years, the company recruited three batches of volunteers, with the last batch starting to receive training in April. Each volunteer is required to take 30 to 60 hours of generic training, job-specific training and venue training. One or more rehearsals will be carried out in the run-up to the Games. Aside from service-related skills, the training courses also teach basic knowledge of Chinese and western culture, interpersonal skills, as well as tips on emotional intelligence and environmental protection. 'Yet the most essential thing we hope they learn is to be selfless, passionate and tolerant, and to keep a smile on their face,' Mr Yuen said. 'People who see your smile will see our country as welcoming.' The volunteers will be assigned to 19 divisions, including accreditation, administrative services, communication, competition management, Games services, information technology, security and traffic. 'Sometimes the job is as simple as holding a rope to fence spectators on their way to the washroom on a hillside and prevent them from slipping. But it is equally important as every other job,' Mr Yuen said. Despite the enthusiasm among volunteers to serve the Games, Mr Yuen acknowledged that some of them would drop out. 'As the Games approach, it is unavoidable that some people may realise they cannot make it due to a scheduling problem,' Mr Yuen said, adding that the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 saw about 5 per cent of registered volunteers drop out. 'Yet we are confident about the situation in Hong Kong. There is no doubt that participation in the Olympic Games is an unparalleled prestige for everybody in their life. '