National

Tokyo struggles to recruit enough volunteer city guides to help during 2020 Summer Games

Kyodo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is struggling to recruit volunteer city guides for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the number of applicants currently well short of the 30,000 recruits it is aiming to sign up by Dec. 5.

The Tokyo government started its campaign for city volunteers in late September and had secured 16,000 volunteers as of Oct. 23.

The main job of a city volunteer is to offer help to tourists at airports and stations. The role is different from games volunteers, a position that is proving more popular because it offers the chance to be more directly involved in assisting with the Tokyo Games.

The number of applications for games volunteers has reached more than 50,000 during the same period, representing about 65 percent of the target of 80,000 volunteers.

To encourage more people to apply to be city guides, the local government has ramped up its advertising campaign by emphasizing that participation requires less of a time commitment than what’s expected from games helpers, and facilitating applications by reducing the number of questions related to language proficiency.

A 65-year-old man who applied for both positions said he feels the role of a games volunteer is more attractive than that of city volunteer because the former is “closer to the athletes.”

A senior official involved in the campaign said, “The recruitment for both sets of volunteers started at the same time and people flocked to be games volunteers, which offers them the chance to witness treasured moments.”

During the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, 8,000 people served as city volunteers.