My teenage son Matthew was born in Tokyo in November 2002. He would like to be a volunteer for Tokyo 2020 as a show of support for his birthplace. He is a competitive swimmer and a member of the Auxiliary Medical Service in Hong Kong. Matthew can speak fluently in English, French and Mandarin. He also knows some basic Malay, Russian and Japanese.

Although Matthew has strong qualifications to be a volunteer, he will unfortunately be denied this chance because he will not reach the age of 18 by April 1, 2020. The cutoff age is very arbitrary and discriminatory.

The vision of Tokyo 2020 is “Unity in Diversity.” Ironically the volunteer rule is completely doing the opposite. It is dividing the youth and will deprive many people born in 2002 of a chance to serve in the games.

According to Japanese labor law, children are allowed to work in the service sectors outside of school hours when they reach the age of 13. The announced age requirement by The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) is clearly contradictory to the goal of the Olympic Movement and relevant Japanese law.

As a father, I urge TOCOG to take a serious look of the issue as we have the shared responsibility to create more opportunities for the next generation to learn, to serve and to work together.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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