- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Organizers of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro have closed recruitment for volunteers, registering 242,757 applicants for 70,000 unpaid positions - 45,000 for the Olympics and 25,000 for the Paralympics.

The original deadline of Nov. 15 was extended by a month when organizers struggled to find recruits.

Organizers had hoped to see 300,000 register, a number they later said was too high.

Organizers said volunteers came from all of Brazil’s 26 states, the federal district of Brasilia, and 192 countries. After Brazil, the leading registrations were from the United States, Russia, China and Britain.

“We are very pleased with the volume and particularly the diversity of applicants in the program,” said Flavia Fontes, Rio 2016 Volunteer Program manager.

The applicants were 55 percent female, and 45 percent male.

Volunteers perform a range of jobs like greeting fans and escorting athletes. They must pay their own lodging and transportation to the host city. They get transportation to venues and meals on the days they work, some training and uniforms. They must be willing to work at least 10 days, but many work much more.

Volunteers also fill jobs that require advanced training, including doctors.

Organizers said selection of the 70,000 will begin in March.

Volunteers offer large savings to the local organizing committee. The International Olympic Committee published a study of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that showed unpaid volunteers saved organizers about $60 million. Sydney used only 40,000 volunteers.

The operating budget for the Rio Games is $3 billion, which is the cost of running the games themselves. Overall, Rio is spending about $20 billion - a mix of public and private money - to build sporting and urban infrastructure to prepare South America’s first Olympics.

Brazil spent about $15 billion on this year’s World Cup.

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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