They're known as the "Games Makers."
You won't find them running on the track or swimming in the pool and TV crews will likely ignore them. They certainly won't be stepping on any podiums.
But the London Olympics couldn't happen without them.
Behind the scenes, more than 70,000 people from around the world will be involved in keeping the Games on track. Their jobs range from administrators and photographers to site managers and ticket-takers, from cooks and cleaners to employees and volunteers for the London organizing committee.
And there are many Canadians among them.
Some are just getting to town, while others have been working in London for months. But all of them will get to experience the Summer Games first-hand.
Nick Didlick, the venue photo manager for North Greenwich Arena, knows all about that perspective. After five Olympics, he's collected his share of stories. The Vancouver native scaled mountains to watch American skier Bill Johnson win gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Games and crowded the track when Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey steamed to a world record in Atlanta in 1996.
He's watched Brazilian fans dance the samba in the stands and has heard "O Canada" echo through the streets of Vancouver.
Didlick, 54, started out as a photographer at the 1984 Summer Games in Sarajevo. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he was the photo services manager, overseeing the plans for the 700 photographers who covered the Games. He's been to just about every other major sporting festival over the past three decades, but says nothing compares to the Olympics.
"The sheer scale of an Olympic event is jaw-dropping," he says.
This time around, Didlick's job is to make sure everything runs smoothly for the visiting photographers who will be covering gymnastics or basketball at North Greenwich Arena. He will monitor the lighting in the building, keep the press rooms stocked with food and ensure that the catwalks and court-side spots are easily accessible.
"Think of it as 30 simultaneous Grey Cups," he says, explaining the magnitude of the Olympics.
In the coming days, Didlick and his crew of 24 volunteers will try to lay out every detail of the Games for photographers, right down to the exact spot where they will stand when the action happens.
"People don't realize that behind the scenes, everything has been planned to the last second," said Didlick. "It should be transparent for photographers, but in the background, hundreds of hours go into planning to get one photographer into one position."
But that doesn't mean everything will work out as planned.
"Something will go pear-shaped," he says. "Expect the unexpected — it's the Olympics."
First-time volunteer Katherine Lee isn't sure what to expect. The 34-year-old has never been part of an Olympic Games, but couldn't pass up a chance to join the party in her adopted hometown.
A Toronto native who moved to London 10 years ago, Lee will be part of the athlete services team during the beach volleyball tournament. She'll be helping athletes to get to practices and matches, and will monitor their needs during play.
An hour outside London, Sarah Smith of Blenheim, Ont., is working as the canoe sprint services manager at the Eton Dorney venue. Smith, 31, volunteered at the Vancouver Games and enjoyed it so much she signed on for a bigger role in London. She will manage 120 volunteers.
After 13 months of preparations, Smith finally feels the Games are in sight. Given the time she's put in, she feels personally attached to how everything unfolds.
"When you're working on a project for over a year, it becomes your baby," she says. "You have complete ownership over what you're working on."
It hasn't escaped Smith's attention that she'll be overseeing one of Canada's top medal hopes in star kayaker Adam van Koeverden.
"For me, it's if I can provide him the best environment," she says, revealing that it might be tough to remain non-partisan. "I'll have to stand back for most of the time, but I'll be cheering for Canada."
Bruce Burton likely won't have to deal with that problem at the ExCel venue in London, where he's the chairman of the jury for the table tennis competition. Of the 172 competing athletes, only six are North American.
The native of St. John's, N.L., will serve as an independent chair on a panel of representatives from each of the six regions — North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania. He will spend the entire competition, monitoring virtually every match that takes place.
Burton, 58, is one of 44 officials the Canadian Olympic Committee is sending to London, part of a group that includes soccer referees, gymnastics judges, technical delegates and fairness committee members.
His services will only be needed in exceptional circumstances, but he still has to stay sharp. When competitors appeal refereeing decisions during match play, it's on Burton to make the final call.
He was an average table tennis player but through a rich officiating career, he's enjoyed the sport at a world-class level. He was the North American technical representative for the Sydney Games in 2000 and at Beijing in 2008.
"The energy in an Olympic city is like nothing else," he says.