Tokyo Olympics hit with another setback as 1,000 volunteers QUIT over worries about coronavirus and after sexist comments by the man in charge – but organisers insist the games WILL still go ahead
About 1,000 Olympics volunteers have quit over the past month, organizers said, during which time organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori quit due to sexist remarks and a new president was chosen to replace him.
Volunteers are the backbone of any Games, performing everything from guiding people to venues, translating and driving visitors around.
A significant drop in their numbers could be another hurdle for Tokyo 2020, already hit by an unprecedented year-long postponement and a lack of public support fueled by concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
About 1,000 Olympics volunteers have quit the delayed Tokyo games over the past month
Tokyo 2020 organizers said not all those volunteers who stepped down recently were quitting due to Mori’s comments.
Mori, 83, quit as Tokyo organising committee president following a public backlash over sexist comments he made last week when he said women talked too much in meetings.
The former Japanese prime minister admitted: ‘My inappropriate remarks have caused chaos. The Games should continue under new leadership, so I am stepping down.’
Surveys have now shown volunteers repeatedly expressing concerns about the coronavirus.
The total number of volunteers recruited by Tokyo 2020 is 80,000 and organizers have said they don’t expect running the Games will be affected, since the number quitting is only about 1% of the total.
This is the latest setback after Yoshiro Mori recently stepped down due to sexist remarks
Another 30,000 volunteers have been recruited separately by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which was unable to immediately comment on how many have quit.
In addition, the postponement of the Games has affected some volunteers, who were in a position to help last year but aren’t this year, due to job changes or other lifestyle changes, such as having to care for small children.
The Olympics are due to run from July 23 to August 8.
While the games continue to be given the green light to go ahead, a series of amendments appear to be occurring on a weekly basis.
People who turn out to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch during its journey through Japan from the end of March will be asked to applaud rather than cheer passing runners, and there has been warnings that the event could be suspended if crowds lining the relay route grow too large.
Many volunteers have cited concerns regarding Covid-19 and will no longer be helping out
The torch procession and ceremony is the sole precursor to every Olympic games, and the latest unusual provisions made in order to keep this in place represent the growing scale of challenges Japan faces to make the event a reality.
About 10,000 torchbearers will carry the prestigious symbol of the Games through 859 locations in Japan’s 47 prefectures, culminating in its arrival at the main Olympic stadium on 23 July.
One prefecture has also recently confirmed it was reconsidering its involvement due to concerns over the virus.
‘No shouting, no cheering. Please cheer by clapping your hands, and maintain an appropriate distance in case there is overcrowding,’ Yukihiko Nunomura, the vice director general of the organising committee, told a media briefing on Thursday.
‘If it turns out that there are dense crowds on the streets, the torch relay can be stopped as we prioritise safety and security.’