Olympic organizers' plan to recruit 110,000 volunteers in four months raises eyebrows


With only two years to go before the Olympics, the organizing committee of the games and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government are moving ahead with preparations to secure the 110,000 or so volunteers needed for the quadrennial event.

The committee and the metro government plan to recruit volunteers between September and December. But many people involved in the task are asking whether that’s possible in just four months.

Another source of concern is whether the requirements for volunteers are too tough for those who have to work or study.

The committee plans to recruit 80,000 volunteers to run the event smoothly. The metro government plans to recruit 30,000 to serve as guides for transportation and other services in the capital.

The committee’s volunteers will be required to work around eight hours a day for at least 10 days. But the city’s volunteers will only have to work five hours for five days or more.

Volunteers will also have to attend several training seminars before the games begin.

The committee and the metro government are trying to stimulate participation by distributing flyers at universities across the country and providing subsidies to companies that introduce special leave systems for volunteers.

The metro government also plans to make use of some 3,000 participants in the tourism volunteer program launched by the government when Japan and South Korea co-hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2002. They are currently working as sightseeing guides in major tourist spots in Ueno and Shinjuku.

“We’ll let the tourism volunteers act as core members of the metropolitan volunteer team during the 2020 Games,” a Tokyo official said.

But Seijiro Nishida, 69, a tourism volunteer who intends to take part in the 2020 Olympics, said it will be hard to get help.

“Although retired people like me can find the time, younger working generations would have trouble being confined for such long hours,” he said. “Not a few people around me say they want to be Tokyo Games volunteers but can’t because there are too many constraints.”

A member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly involved in the preparations said: “I don’t know how many people are aware of the need for pregame training to be volunteers.”

The member also voiced concern that some may give up on volunteering due to the requirement.

Given these circumstances, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to offer flexible schedules for attending pregame training programs and to utilize e-learning to help people with jobs join volunteer activities more easily.

“We plan to distribute flyers by visiting summer festivals across the country to seek applicants,” an official of the organizing committee said.