Over the past month, about 1,000 Tokyo Olympics volunteers have quit due to former organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori’s sexist remarks and Covid-19 related concerns. The year-long postponement of the Games has also reduced the numbers of volunteers as some of them were in a position to help last year but can’t this year due to job changes or other lifestyle changes.
When Mori’s comments about “women talking too much” faced global backlash, Seiko Hashimoto replaced Mori as the new president. Hashimoto was previously the Minister of State for Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. She has competed in seven summer and winter Olympic Games as a track cyclist and speed skater and has won a bronze medal at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games. Her appointment has been regarded as a very important signal of gender equality.
While the swift action towards Mori has been appreciated, the Tokyo Olympics is still dealing with problems, the latest one being the loss of volunteers. Every successful sporting event, especially the Olympics, requires volunteers for guiding people to venues, translating, driving visitors around, and many other important responsibilities. Since Tokyo 2020 organizers recruited 80,000 volunteers for the games, they believe that the departure of around 1% of them won’t affect the Games. Additionally, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government recruited 30,000 volunteers separately, but how many have quit from that group is still unknown.
While the committee thinks that losing 1,000 volunteers in a month won’t be a big deal, it might affect the other volunteers. Since many citizens are still not in favour of the Olympics due to the rising coronavirus cases, it is very much possible that more volunteers will quit over time. The Olympics are due to take place between July 23 to August 8.