You don’t get many chances to be a part of sports history, and judging by the standards for volunteers set by the The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, this isn’t one either.

On 4 July, news organization Asahi Shimbun reported on a draft of requirements to become a volunteer for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games issued by the Organising Committee. Here is a brief rundown of some of the conditions and qualities that a potential volunteer should be able to meet.

  • Possess communication skills
  • Speak a foreign language
  • Work over ten eight-hour days
  • Have knowledge of events or experience watching them live
  • Be over 18 years old in 2020
  • Go through three stages of training and an interview
  • Pay for own transportation and accommodation

Of course, this being a volunteer position, there is no payment for those selected, but the Organising Committee points out that they can keep their uniforms for free. You might be wondering why someone with such skills and availability would want to help out at the Olympics for next to nothing, and you wouldn’t be alone judging by some of the many comments that poured in.

“They wasted so much money on this pork barrel and now expect to get skilled workers for free? I mean why would they actually give some of the money back to the regular people?”
“I’d have a hard time hiring people like that for 2,000 yen (US$20) an hour.”
“This is what happens when they squander money on things that aren’t needed. Welcome to the low-(labor)-cost Olympics!”

Also, the Organising Committee isn’t just looking for a few good bilingual men and women, but need about 80,000 of them to keep the games running smoothly. Apparently in anticipation of widespread scoffing, the committee was also quick to point out that the 2012 London Olympics managed to get 70,000 volunteers selected from a field of 240,000 applicants.

It remains to be seen if the Japanese are quite as enthusiastic as the British when it comes to helping out at the Olympics. Given the bilingual factor and public’s growing resentment of the string of scandals coming out of these Games, it does seem less likely.

However, this isn’t Japan’s first Olympics either, so the committee must have some sense of the limits of their recruitment drive. A few commenters remember how it was done before.

“During the Nagano Games, the volunteers were sent from companies.”
“These ‘volunteers’ are going to come from corporations. If you happen to work for an Olympic sponsor, good luck!”
“I can hear those company slaves singing ‘Kimigayo’ already.”

Also, the Labor Standards Bureau issued a warning during the Nagano Olympics that since those employees sent on Olympic “business trips” are technically doing “volunteer work,” they aren’t eligible for certain rights such as worker’s compensation in the even of an accident.

However, 80,000, is a lot of people and there is sure to be a healthy mix of “company slaves” alongside people who are simply drawn to the pure spirit of human competition and sportsmanship. If you are one of those people, there is plenty of time to apply before volunteers are chosen in August 2018 and begin their first level of training.

That should give you a good chunk of time to pick up a working knowledge of Icelandic and watch plenty of water polo games.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo 2020, B! Hatena, Netlab (Japanese)
Top Image: Wikipedia/Asao Tokolo (1, 2)