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While skimming through the first few chapters of The Hunger Games to answer another question, I noticed this sentence when Katniss is describing the rules surrounding volunteers after Prim's name is called (at the beginning of the second chapter):

In some districts, in which winning the reaping is such a great honor, people are eager to risk their lives, the volunteering is complicated.

The only reason I can see for volunteering being complicated is if there's more than one volunteer for a particular year, and I don't recall this ever being addressed in the books.

Is there anything in the books that I've missed or any reliable, external sources (interviews or other supplementary material by the author) that explain exactly how this situation is resolved?

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    They fight to the death in a giant arena so that they can be the ones to…wait, nevermind. Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 4:21

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I'm not aware of any canon explanations. But I always assumed that the districts who specifically trained young people for the Hunger Games would have some sort of internal competition and grading each year. The boy and girl who were judged to be the most deadly would be permitted to volunteer.

The alternative would be a chaotic situation with many boys and girls stepping forward at the Reaping. Presumably the Capitol would just have to pick two of them. But it would be to the district's advantage to choose the strongest candidates ahead of time, as I described.

From the Capitol's point of view, the whole Reaping is about propaganda and stage management. I'm sure they would prefer to celebrate two brave volunteers, instead of having an undignified and hurried choice between surplus volunteers at the Reaping itself.

(There may be some offhand remark in the books which would support this theory, but I can't remember if that is the case. Clarifications are welcome.)

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  • correct. There's no mention of what happens if there are multiple volunteers for a single position. Of course the official rules don't allow for prior training of competitors, but it is mentioned that some districts do in fact do just that so your assumption of pre-selection competitions and training sessions seems to be on target.
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 12:55

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