The Olympic "invisibles" - the men and women supplying the vital support services for the 2012 games in London - will be the subject of research at a new centre at Loughborough University.
Loughborough's Centre for Olympic Studies and Research was formed in partnership with the British Olympic Foundation. It plans massive expansion of its research following London's successful bid for the Games. A major part of the research will focus on the thousands of people who staff the Olympic Games organising committees (Ocogs).
Ocogs have a range of duties, from ensuring that every sport has equal treatment and that no political demonstrations are held in the Olympic City to housing the athletes, their entourages and officials; organising medical services; solving transport problems and meeting the demands of the media.
The Athens Olympics organising committees employed 3,000 people, backed by 60,000 volunteers involved in staging the Games. It is thought that the London team will be of a similar size.
The Loughborough University centre will formalise its research plans in September. Co-director Ian Henry, professor of leisure policy and management, said a key project would be what happened to Ocog workers once the Games were over. "Our aim is to complement the concern that the Olympic organisers are showing for athletes in post-athletic career development," he said.
Loughborough's contribution to the Games extends beyond research. More than 100 students and graduates hope to compete in 2008 in Beijing.
Many of the athletes, including sprint hurdler Dominic Girdler (pictured, page 1), who has just graduated from Loughborough in sports science with management, also aim to compete in the London Games.