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Olympic volunteers: One-time chance, or exploitation?

31 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

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"To me, it's very clearly economic exploitation," Joel Maxcy, the president of the International Association of Sports Economists and a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia

It is exploitation with fancy image, to cover over budget that already happens.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Exploitation and being billed as helping, the people of Japan shouldn't have to work they should enjoy the Olympics!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Absolutely free is exploitation, as simple as that. Minimal payment is necessary from humanity point of view, and fair governance.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

One aspiring volunteer, Masanobu Ishii, said he wanted to convey the spirit of omotenashi, which translates as showing Japanese hospitality.

I wonder how many of the 200,000 volunteers think the same way? Or were they all forced to drink some kool-aid before talking to the interviewer?

And I hope to hell that ALL the volunteers get some cultural sensitivity training along the way

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Compared to 100 years ago, Japan improved a lot. But compared to 1000 years ago, Japan still has long way to go back.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

David Berri, a sports economist at Southern Utah University, suggested that organizers and Olympic officials should also work for free, or for smaller salaries.

Yeah right, David. JOC and Olympic officials work for nothing? You can't beat a good laugh to start the day!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If you're wealthy or retired or like the one guy, getting paid leave to volunteer, no worries. But the sheer number of volunteers makes it hard to imagine there aren't an awful lot of them who could use at least a stipend for meals, lodging etc.

"To me, it's very clearly economic exploitation," Joel Maxcy, the president of the International Association of Sports Economists and a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, told The Associated Press.

Maxcy described a situation in which volunteers assemble the product but "someone else is collecting nearly all of the money derived from those labor efforts."

This is especially galling given how these sporting events are initially sold to the populace, as having huge economic benefits for a city or its residents. Then you see what Coates' per diem is. No doubt he and Mori are both being taken about by chauffeurs clad in white gloves, staying at 5 star hotels etc.

I mean, I could go and volunteer to tidy up my university president's garden or wash his car on Sundays, but I'm not. That said, it is hard to imagine the Japanese ever viewing things this way. If they're up for it, who am I to judge.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Considering the amount of money that changes hands and the exorbitant compensation offered to IOC officials it is exploitation.

One exception is jcapan's comment about it being nice for retired people (I know of one retired ANA pilot who is completely excited about volunteering).

In the end those who are volunteering are making a conscience choice to do so so hard for them to complain.

However - again - considering the crazy compensation levels of some of those working for the IOC and the likely bribes being tossed around they should pay the folks to do this work.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Should be illegal. So much for labour laws

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It won’t hurt anyone. Don’t want to do it, then don’t. No one is being forced.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I see it as a quid pro quo. The volunteer gets access to Olympians, once in a lifetime memories and maybe prestige; the Olympics gets eager, pro-Olympic helpers. Noone is gonna volunteer at a conbini...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd love to be a volunteer and prove the adage: "you get what you pay for." Someone needs to remind these volunteers that they don't have to work hard or much at all. Goof around, enjoy yourself, take selfies with athletes, take long beer breaks and leave early.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

One aspiring volunteer, Masanobu Ishii, said he wanted to convey the spirit of omotenashi, which translates as showing Japanese hospitality.

Ahhhh.. good old Japanese omotenashi.

The thing where Japanese pretend to like someone so much that they would bend over backwards to impart a false reality of Japan to that person - then quietly stereotype and make a caricature of that foreigner to their friends when the foreigner is no longer around.

I prefer to deal with outwardly passionate, or even rude (but honest) locals in my travels...

As for unpaid volunteering one's time and money to (by extension) the government, this is quite common in socialist countries so I'm not sure what people are/were expecting. People do it everyday here in Japan.

Get back to work!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The billion-dollar Olympics are awash with cash. But volunteers work for free.

It's exploitation.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Wow! Japan is making people work for free? What a revelation that is, NOT! Nothing new to see here people. Move along!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"IOC President Thomas Bach gets no salary but receives an allowance of about $250,000 per year as a "volunteer" president."

Ill take that volunteer pay.

On another note, volunteers could charge for their service, if spread out enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

mind you some "volunteer works" in Japan are paid at the end, they just ask you not to disclose to the public.

if they pay you the usual 10.000 per day at the end of your work I would be glad to sign up.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

volunteerism makes sense when it's a non for profit organization or a community event or disaster. But when a mega corporation like the IOC along with other multinational corporations rake in BILLIONS with a B, that's crazy and utter exploitation and should be stopped. The $100 million or whatnot to pay those people is peanuts and completely possible even now without hurting their profiteering

3 ( +5 / -2 )

D what you want.

My time is more precious to my family than being close to athletes.

I made my choice to say I am worth more than being exploited.

Olympics volunteers shall never complain about poverty and labor law.

Some people are easily lured.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And these stories are appear almost as frequently as Mt. Fuji will explode stories every four years.

I am a volunteer and don't feel exploited, most volunteers generally know what they are getting into and one never expects to be paid, if one has never volunteered before it would be difficult to understand.

I have a full time job and I know I will be expected to be volunteering without pay, some people will say that is exploitation, and some people will say "you're crazy" but that's the mind of a volunteer that some will never understand (as most people have never done any type of volunteering in their lives before).

When I got my radio license, i went to the testing center, even though radio companies make billions of yen and regulated by the government, the administrators of national licensing exams (in most countries of the world) are done by volunteers, who go out every weekend to help administer exams with no pay, because simply they enjoy doing it. Same for election campaigns, billions are spent on candidates yet volunteers are passionate to go out and volunteer and never see a cent.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

My daughter suggested I could volunteer. Very serious face too...then we burst out laughing. It's going to be stinking hot, crowded. Rather jump in the pool in my driveway during August. But if you're into to it go for it your undoubtedly a better person than I.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

JT "experts" behaving as if only the Tokyo Olympics volunteers will be taken "advantage" of!!!

Olympics volunteers DO NOT GET PAID!!! NOWHERE.

Jeeeezus!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I still have fond memories of volunteering for the Los Angeles 1984 Games (I represented Kenya in the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony with the honor of carrying the country's placard). Amongst what I learned was a way to sneak into the closing ceremonies (long story, but it involved blending in with the British Olympic team).

Gripes about the Game's pay structure and corruption are legitimate, yet joy from participation is real and deserved.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm all for volunteering for a worthy cause, but you certainly won't catch me giving away my labour to put money into some fatcat's pocket - and that's what volunteering at the Olympics is. Look at all of the sponsors and all of the profits.

Personally, I know the value of my labour, and it's far more than 'free to an immensely wealthy, corrupt and immoral sports event'

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Volunteer president, eh?

It’s just dirty business.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whatever, as long as there are people willing to work for free then what incentive is there to pay it? Out of the goodness of their hearts? Maybe if too few people are willing to volunteer then we'd start seeing a large number of actual jobs on offer, but it's simply a case of supply and demand.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Olympics volunteers DO NOT GET PAID!!! NOWHERE.

That's correct, but lots of wrongs don't make a right.

As the chimpanzee lady shows, there are such things as volunteers who are paid. The word does not automatically mean "works for free".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I considered donating my time myself.... and at no point did I think they would be exploiting me. Why not help out, especially if you have time.... what the heck else would you be doing? If you're lucky you might get to see some amazing sports and if not... you get out and do something that helps towards a really special time for many people.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No one can deny it is absolute exploitation from the Olympic side of things, but if people go in there knowing that and still want to do it, and don't mind actually paying instead of being paid, and other physical and mental demands, why not? I can see it being both exploitation and all the same a one-time experience. But volunteers should not be forced to do anything they don't want and should be able to back out if they feel they are being not only exploited, but abused.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If volunteers are paid then they aren't volunteers. But it would cost another $100,000,000 or so to pay 80,000 extra workers (not volunteers), say, 8,000 yen per day for the two weeks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have no problem with people choosing to volunteer their time in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I do have an issue when anyone makes a huge salary off any sports, be they team owners, organizers, sponsors, or players. Money beyond what it takes to bring the sport to the world makes every sport ugly. Full-time people in sports should earn enough to live at some level of comfort, but not be crazy rich just from their sport.

If the "volunteer President" gets paid and amount, then each "volunteer" should be paid the same amount about $680/day. Could anyone afford to live in Tokyo on that pittance?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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