Games' Strangest Job: Sweat Mopper

Volunteers compete for elite, but kinda gross, position

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2012 1:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of the most unusual—and sought-after—volunteer positions in the London Olympics? Sweat mopper. These surprisingly high-profile volunteers are in charge of keeping the players safe from slips on a wet court, and even though they're not athletes themselves, the job is quite intense. Teams of two moppers do a synchronized cleaning job during breaks in badminton matches, wiping up as much sweat as they can in 40 seconds. "You feel like Usain Bolt mopping," one mopper tells the Wall Street Journal. Moppers also work other courts, including volleyball, handball, and basketball.

Moppers enjoy a bit more notoriety than other volunteers; Chinese fans have been known to yell out, "Court moppers, go for it!" during badminton games, and volleyball moppers are introduced and run through the cheerleaders before games. Perhaps that's why so many people applied for the spots. Those who were selected were trained—not just how to mop, while using microfiber mops on sticks, but how to not appear bored and how to keep out of the way of the players. Volleyball moppers practiced for nine months. Now that the Games are on, moppers are stretching right along with the athletes—because injuries do happen. One mopper got a swollen ankle, and dehydration is also a concern.

A drop of sweat comes off the face of Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei while playing in a men's singles badminton quarterfinal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London.   (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
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