Organizers to start accepting applications from prospective Tokyo Games volunteers this month

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics said Wednesday they will start accepting applications from prospective volunteers this month, with a goal of recruiting 110,000 people by the end of the year.

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is seeking 80,000 volunteers who are expected to provide services for spectators and support event operations at games-related facilities and the Olympic Village.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, meanwhile, plans to recruit 30,000 volunteers of its own who will mainly provide transport information for tourists and visitors at airports, major railways stations, sightseeing spots in Tokyo and at areas hosting the events.

Applications will be accepted from Sept. 26 through early December, the organizers announced at a news conference at the Toranomon Hills complex, where the organizing committee has its office.

“The volunteers will play a big role in the games’ success and we’re seeking people willing to support the athletes and spectators, and help liven up the events,” Tokyo 2020 Vice Director-General Yusuke Sakaue said.

“We’ve held many events including those at universities, to lure potential volunteers and personally I feel that many people are interested (in volunteering),” he said of his hopes to recruit 80,000 volunteers by the end of this year.

With an aim to embrace diversity at the games, the applications will be open to all people, including those with disabilities, regardless of their nationality, Sakaue said. Those who want to participate, however, must have been born before April 1, 2002 and need to possess either Japanese nationality or are residing in Japan legally.

“We’re not demanding language abilities and a lack of foreign language skills won’t ruin applicants’ chances but such skills will be a plus,” Sakaue added, explaining that foreign residents of Japan will only need to have basic communication skills in Japanese.

Akira Tanaka, senior director for games operations at the metropolitan government’s Tokyo 2020 preparations bureau, also stressed the role of the city’s volunteers in displaying Tokyo’s hospitality.

“It will be a good opportunity for many people to visit Tokyo … and volunteers (providing support for visitors around the city) will share the responsibility to promote Tokyo’s charm,” he said.

The city’s government hopes to recruit some of those who will be volunteering during next year’s Rugby World Cup as well as students at universities in the capital.

Tokyo’s “city volunteers” are required to participate in the program for at least five days, while games volunteers will need to sacrifice at least 10 days in total.

Applications for the city volunteering program will be accepted by email, fax and online at www.city-volunteer.metro.tokyo.jp/, while those who want to volunteer for the organizing committee can apply online at tokyo2020.org/jp/special/volunteer/.

The results will be announced around September 2019. A training program for volunteers will start the following month.