By Duncan Mackay

Germany_World_Cup_volunteersJune 18 - Munich 2018 are claiming that the strong core of volunteers in Germany should give it the edge over rivals Annecy and Pyeongchang when it comes to choosing the host city for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The organisers of the FIFA Women's World Cup, which is due to kick-off in Berlin on June 26, have been inundated with applications from people hoping to volunteer at the event.

In total, more than 15,000 people applied for just 3,000 available positions.

Volunteering is a vital part of Germany's sporting heritage and there are over 8.5 million volunteers registered with the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), Munich 2018 officials claim.

Katarina_Witt_IOC_Museum_Lausanne_May_18_2011"Munich 2018 is all about welcoming the entire world to an inclusive sporting celebration, and many of our visitors' first point of contact with our Festival of Friendship will be the volunteers," said Katarina Witt (pictured), the chair of Munich 2018.

"Having seen their warmth and professionalism at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen [in January], and at dozens of events in between, I know they'll make the Olympic family feel right at home in 2018."

Many of Munich 2018's proposed competition venues already engage experienced teams of volunteers in situ – people who have worked the same competitions and overcome the same challenges for many years, chief executive Bernhard Schwank claimed.

"Volunteers are absolutely integral to our concept," he said.

"We are very lucky in Germany, and in Bavaria in particular, because so many passionate and knowledgeable sports fans are willing to give up their time to help make event organisers' dreams a reality."

With less than three weeks before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes on the host city for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games at its Session in Durban on July 6, Munich is trying to close on the gap on favourites Pyeongchang by trying to emphasise the passion for winter sports in Germany.

"It's not just the venues," said Magdalena Neuner, the two-time Olympic biathlon champion.

It's the volunteers who work the venues,

"In Bavaria, we have generations of volunteers who know the venues, the transport systems, the event protocols, and so many languages – and I'll be one of them as soon as I'm finished competing. In Munich, it won't be about recruiting volunteers: it will be about selecting them."

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