Tokyo hopes dashed for most overseas volunteers and guests

  • Overseas international volunteers will not take part in this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tokyo organisers have confirmed.

    The news follows a decision not to allow overseas spectators and the cancellation of the “Olympic guest programme”, restricting accreditation only to those with “essential and operational roles”, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also stated that accreditation will not be granted to any accompanying guests, in any category. H&H is seeking clarity on the exact scope of this decision.

    Reports that volunteers from abroad would not be permitted at this year’s Games circulated last week, and Tokyo organisers confirmed this to H&H today (Tuesday, 30 March).

    “At a 20 March meeting between Tokyo 2020, the government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the IOC and the [International Paralympic Committee] IPC, the Japanese side informed the IOC and IPC of the conclusion reached by the Japanese parties not to allow entry into Japan for overseas spectators,” a Tokyo 2020 spokesman told H&H, explaining this is owing to current coronavirus conditions around the world.

    “It was accordingly determined that Tokyo 2020 must regretfully forego the participation of Field Cast members (volunteers) who currently reside outside Japan and do not possess Japanese nationality.”

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    The spokesman added: “Although it was a difficult and painful decision, we concluded that it was important to communicate this before volunteer shifts were assigned, rather than put off a decision and cause confusion and uncertainty for those generously willing to volunteer.

    “In exceptional cases deemed critical to Games operations, we may consider pursuing the necessary permissions for entry to Japan for a very limited number of overseas Field Cast members to fill specific roles. These members will be contacted individually.”

    This year’s Olympics are due to be held from 23 July to 8 August, with the Paralympics from 24 August to 5 September, with strict Covid safety protocols in place.

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