Volunteers, Shop Workers Regret Decision over Overseas Fans

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, March 21 (Jiji Press)--The decision by the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee and others to stage the sporting events without spectators from abroad amid the novel coronavirus pandemic has shocked people planning to serve as volunteers in the games and those working at souvenir shops.

“I had thought that the Tokyo Games would be the greatest joy in my life,” said Tokihiko Yoshida, a 65-year-old resident of the city of Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, who is slated to work as a volunteer. Yoshida has continued studying English, dreaming of informing visitors from abroad of good things about Japan.

“Olympics and Paralympics are very significant because the events will bring together people from around the world and allow them to engage in cultural exchanges,” Yoshida said, adding, “The sporting events are not only for athletes.” He said sadly: “I lost my target. I may not need to continue working as a volunteer.”

“'Regrettable’ is the only word I can say now,” said a 35-year-old worker at a souvenir shop in the Asakusa district, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo.

The shop increased branches in anticipation of a rise in the number of foreign visitors. But the coronavirus pandemic has led to a plunge in customers, and the branches are seeing inventories piling up.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press