TOKYO2020

Seeking Volunteers

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimates as many as 90,000 volunteers are needed to make it a success.

    Some are already getting set to make their mark on the games.

    Just like athletes, volunteers need training. A course organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan government teaches volunteers how to communicate with foreign visitors.

    Organizers are encouraging volunteers to use more than just words to communicate.

    "I am telling participants to try to put themselves in the visitors' shoes. To host them with a warm heart is the most important thing," says Nobuharu Hikiba of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

    Many point to volunteers as the reason for the success of the 2012 London Games.

    70,000 people participated, doing everything from driving athletes to venues to assisting visitors.

    Volunteering at sports events is still new in Japan. Yasutoshi Magara helps recruit and train them for international Rugby matches.

    He's even spent time in the UK to see what he can learn from them.

    "I saw an elderly lady in her 70s or 80s, sitting on a high chair on the street directing crowds and using her sense of humor. In Japan, volunteers would tend to wait for an order from above," says Magara.

    Magara encourages participants to think outside the box. On this day, prior to a match, they learned how to help people in wheelchairs.

    The advice came in handy. A spectator asked them to escort her to a seat. No ramps were available nearby, so volunteers decided to lift her carefully. After the match, they went the extra mile to help her feel comfortable.

    Many of these volunteers are looking to strengthen their skills in time for Tokyo 2020.

    They'll have the chance to practice, as Tokyo will be hosting the Rugby World Cup one year before the Olympics.