As of today, there are 50 days to go until the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. After the chaotic events of 2020, Tokyo’s Summer Olympics were pushed back a full calendar year. Initiatives aimed at keeping the event on its new schedule have been ongoing since last year–and the effort has been Herculean, to say the least.
However, less than two months before the opening ceremony, the event has confirmed that between 10,000 and 80,000 volunteers who had agreed to help put the event together will be dropping out. The volunteers who are abandoning the event have said that they were concerned for their health and safety.
The Olympics are a major source of entertainment and solidarity for the global community. Countries from all around the world send their champions to compete in some of the most impressive feats of athleticism that humanity has ever put together.
With things stabilizing somewhat and the world getting back to normal, the opening of the Olympic games will herald the return of normalcy for many. However, the news that over 10,000 volunteers will be stepping back from the event has some fans of the Olympics worried.
The Tokyo Olympic Committee, however, is confident that this won’t impact the event. The event has paid staff who can perform the duties volunteers were going to cover. That’s good news for sports fans–but less-than-welcome news for the planning committee, who must now pay for labor when they hoped to engage volunteers.
Olympic volunteers often choose to work for free simply to be close to a once-in-a-lifetime athletic event. They receive a uniform that they get to keep, their travel costs to the site are covered, and they get free meals on the days they work. They have to pay for their own lodging, however.
While thousands of volunteers have chosen to opt out, the planning committee is still promising to deliver all the glory and spectacle we expect from the Olympic Games. Seiko Hashimoto, the organizing committee president, has repeatedly stated that the event will be safe for all who compete. “The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will absolutely make sure to protect the health of the athletes,” Hashimoto emphasized on Thursday.
The event is expected to be a huge draw in terms of both attendance and viewership after missing its originally scheduled date.