Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Written By: Santiago Brignole Araujo
Date Published: 2nd December 2019
In this article, we will tell you about Tokyo 2020 volunteers and review experiences of volunteers in past games. How much of an impact will participating on the Olympics will highlight your profile? Let's find out.
The Olympic games are the world sporting event par excellence. Athletes from all over the world compete, giving everything of themselves and honoring the chivalrous spirit of this competition. Undoubtedly, Tokyo will be the center of attention during 2020, and volunteering is the chance for people who cannot compete to be part of a historical event.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, will take place from July 24 to August 9 in Japan's capital city. The games, which will seek to be the most innovative in history, will be build in three key concepts:
“Strive to do your best, accept each other and leave a legacy for the future.”
These three concepts also encompass the more than 80,000 volunteers who will be helping to make the best possible sport event ever made. Fun fact about 2020 Tokyo Olympics: The Olympic games connection with Japan began thanks to Jigoro Kano, who was the first Asian member of the international Olympic committee and creator of the martial art Judo.
Kano was a promoter of both martial and sports values and back in 1940, he did everything possible to make Tokyo the host city of the Olympic games. Now his legacy continues as Tokyo is yet again chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Benefits of Volunteering in The Olympics
For some people, the idea of committing to be a volunteer can seem daunting or even impossible. The reasons are diverse: the remoteness of the host countries, the level of pre-event preparation, amongst other personal reasons people might have.
However, this should not be an impediment, since the aim of the volunteers is not only to help the best possible realization of the event, but also to foster growth and exchange experiences with all the people involved, including athletes and national team members.
1. Organizational Training
The Olympic organization provides a series of training with the aim of making the volunteers as confident as possible while doing their work. Specifically, volunteers will be given thorough briefings as well as training of the event management conduct itself. Most of the time volunteers are given tourism or team support related responsibilities which even for those specific roles, special training and briefing is compulsory for the selection. It's not all the time that you get a lesson of event management through one of the most remarkable historical events there are.
Clara Roig from Argentina, participated in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games as a volunteer in the area of language services, performing simultaneous interpretation with English, French and Russian.
“We were selected through interviews in which they assessed our language level, and then we did two training stages: one with an online platform, on more general issues regarding volunteering in the Olympic Games, and the second, face-to-face, on techniques of simultaneous interpretation and translation.
Fiorella Tombolini, from Argentina, was also a volunteer in Language Services in the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. She helped as an interpreter of Japanese language, mainly for the athletes being interviewed by the press, but also for any person who needed interpretation services, like tourists. Many months before the beginning of the Games she received training on interpretation skills, teamwork and also basic medical knowledge and information about what to do in the case of an emergency and on evacuation procedures.
2. Culture Exchange
Another great reason why volunteering is incredibly enriching is knowing the host country from a more personal, intimate place. And if we add the contact with individuals from all over the world, the amount of experiences and knowledge that a volunteer can acquire is infinite, especially when you get a chance to manage athletes and their teams first hand. You would be able to learn so much about different cultures as these country representatives bring their heart and soul for their countries.
Furthermore, the host country (Japan) will definitely boost cultures and traditions for tourism promotion purposes. As a volunteer, you would have easy access to the events where normal people have a hard time to gaining entry such as the Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival, which is scheduled to take place between the months of April and September 2020. The festival will be a nation-wide event, organised in close collaboration with the Government of Japan, local city governments and cultural organizations, and will focus on disseminating the power of Japanese culture and art within Japan, and across the world.
Gabriela Occhionero, who worked as a Volunteer Language Services Coordinator in Buenos Aires 2018, shares her most memorable experience:
"I was able to witness how boys from North Korea talked with those from South Korea or Japan, forgetting the obstacles that exist between their countries.”
Gabriela experienced working with other volunteers from Russia, France, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, among others. This experience impacted her in such a way that she even applied to volunteer in Tokyo 2020 and in January she will be receiving training in the Japanese capital.
3. Building Your Network
Having the chance to be a part of such a prestigious event will automatically allow you to meet people as well as sponsor companies that contribute to its succession. For instance, some of the biggest sponsors for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics include Coca-cola, Asahi, SMBC, among other big name companies in Japan and abroad. There is a good chance that you can connect and keep in touch with these companies even after the event ends. Furthermore, you can connect with fellow volunteers and make new friends to expand your network as well as connect with your home country athletes if you get tasked with assisting your home country.
Volunteering information about Tokyo 2020
There will be two types of volunteers: one group in charge of sports fields and guiding the public, and a second group of volunteers called “City Volunteers”. This second group will be in charge of guiding foreigners in places like airports, train stations and tourist sites, where they will provide services to visitors from all over Japan and abroad, such as help with tourism and transportation, information, and orientation to the spectators at the stations closest to the competitions.
These volunteers are going to be the "face" of the host city to warmly welcome the affiliates to the Games, like athletes, tourists and spectators, so they complement the games creating a bright and friendly environment that contributes to add excitement to the competition. Some will have direct contact with the team members, confirming the assistance of the team members and shift adjustments, so they will have to have extensive experience in sports volunteering so that they can respond flexibly according to the situation, in addition to listening skills.
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Games are going to be held here along with athletics tests and football matches. For more information regarding event schedules, you can enter the Tokyo 2020 official website here.
Upcoming Sports Events in Japan
Japan is a country always open to hosting major world sport events. The main attraction will be the 2020 Olympic Games, however it will not be the only major event that the country will have in the next few years. We made a list of upcoming sports events where you can volunteer or have the chance to work and enjoy the experience.
Women's Handball World Cup 2019
From November 30 to December 15, Kumamoto will host the 2019 women's handball world cup. There will be 24 participating countries, which shows the growth that female handball has had worldwide. Just another great opportunity to get involved in the beautiful world of sports. For more information, you can check the official website here.
Rakuten Open Tennis Championships
The Rakuten Open is the ATP 500 tennis tournament that takes place every year between September and October at the Ariake Coliseum Stadium in Tokyo. The open is a world class event where the best tennis players in the world, such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Nadal, Del Potro, among others, usually play. It is another great opportunity not only to be a participant but to see many of these sport legends live. The official website for the Rakuten Open can be viewed here.
World Masters Games: 2021 Kansai
These games are a kind of Olympic games for athletes who are over 30 years old (senior categories). This event will be held in Kansai in 2021 and it will be on it’s tenth iteration, with the first being held in 1985 in the Toronto, Canada. It is estimated that these games will have around 50,000 participants and they opened the vacancies for anyone who wants to volunteer in November. For more information, you can click on their website link here.
We recommend that visitors, students or residents of Japan take the opportunity to have this one-of-a-kind event experience on their resume. You not only get to attend sports competitions, but also chat and talk with the different volunteers, who are full of experiences that can help us measure the magnitude of what an Olympic game really means.
Sports has the power to unite people and nations. Being a volunteer lets you come in contact with international athletes and experience part of what they do, and connect with other sports fans in ways you normally wouldn't in day-to-day life. Without question, being part of the Olympic games is something that should not be missed.
So, if you have the opportunity, take the chance!