Olympic dreams on hold for Japan volunteers, hosts - GulfToday

Olympic dreams on hold for Japan volunteers, hosts


Commuters sit in a train carrying a poster showing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics mascot, Miraitowa, in Tokyo. File/AP

Japanese Olympic volunteer Ami Endo has dreamed for years of seeing the Games, but despite her crushing disappointment over Tokyo 2020 being postponed, she is determined to be part of next year's edition.


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It's a "once-in-a-lifetime event," the 19-year-old university student told the media not long after Games were postponed by a year over the coronavirus pandemic.

Endo isn't even considering joining fellow students in getting a summer job next year, determined to volunteer for the postponed Games.

"I'll gain something that money can't buy," she said.

People wearing face masks take pictures in front of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame in Miyagi prefecture. AFP

Across Japan, tens of thousands of volunteers, and hundreds of villages, towns and cities have registered to help or host athletes and participants at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

For many, the delay of the Games came as a personal blow, after sometimes years of preparations and dreaming.

"Ever since I was in elementary school, I'd hoped Japan would be a host," said Endo, who is studying business and public policy, and said she overcame her disappointment by thinking about the many others who were also seeing their dreams delayed.

Chizuko Yabusaki, 63, was a child when Japan last hosted the Games, and remembers watching the 1964 opening ceremony in rare colour television.

"I remember the scene vividly, and the excitement when we cheered for the marathon runners," she told AFP.

She became an Olympic volunteer hoping to use her Spanish and Portuguese skills and relive her experience as a World Cup volunteer in 2002.

"There was a sense of fun and a swell of emotion you could only feel on the ground," she said.

But she sympathises with the decision to delay, and said she would "definitely" participate next year, adding the postponement will give her more time with his grandchildren this summer.

Agence France-Presse

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