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Tokyo 2020 Olympics to start accepting ‘passionate’ volunteers from September

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers plan to start recruiting 80,000 volunteers for the games from September, but warned Wednesday that only those who can handle the workload will be taken on.

“We want to make sure that they take their jobs seriously, and also that they have the desire to do it because we are looking for those volunteers to continue to work for a minimum of 10 days,” Tokyo 2020 Director-General Toshiro Muto told reporters after a meeting of the executive board.

“We are not looking for people who can only do this for one or two days. We are looking for people who are emotionally and mentally prepared to do this.”

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Wednesday published its outline guide for applying to volunteer for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and plans to accept applications from mid-September to early December this year.

Candidates must be born before April 1, 2002, be available to take part in training, and have either Japanese citizenship or be eligible to reside in Japan.

The outline also states that candidates must have “passion” and “be able to carry out their job to completion.”

“Volunteers are something that we must have, otherwise we can’t have the games,” said Muto. “The volunteers will be the face of the Tokyo 2020 Games. We want people who are passionate and have a strong desire to make sure that the Tokyo Games are a huge success and want to get directly involved in the operation of the games.

“Volunteers will be the first people that visitors from overseas meet when they arrive in Japan. So this is a matter of civic diplomacy, and that’s why we think the volunteer program is one of the most important parts of the plan for the games.”

Volunteers must be over 18 to take part, but Muto also stressed that organizers are keen to involve schoolchildren as much as possible.

Muto also revealed that the organizing committee talked about petitioning the International Olympic Committee to relax its rules on ‘ambush marketing,’ claiming that existing regulations are hampering Tokyo 2020’s efforts to hype up the games.

The IOC only allows selected commercial partners to use the Olympic logo and other brand imagery, and deems any attempt to evoke the event by other organizations — commercial or otherwise — to be ambush marketing.

“We know that there are various organizations that help us and contribute to us in terms of building momentum toward the games,” Muto said. “Not just corporations but prefectural governments as well. When the private sector gets involved, there are ambush marketing constraints that we must be very careful about. That takes some motivation away from people who want to contribute.

“This rule comes from the IOC and we are discussing how we can ask the IOC to be a bit more lenient. We understand that the IOC must have these strict rules but for us, in terms of building momentum, we want to allow the private sector to use the Olympic logo as much as possible.”

Wednesday’s executive board meeting was the first since the Pyeongchang Olympics and Paralympics, which wrapped up on March 18.

“Pyeongchang finished with a bang and now we really have to start preparations in earnest for Tokyo 2020,” said Muto. “Expectations at home and overseas are building.”