Olympic volunteers help out

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A group photo of volunteers providing technical support for tennis events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. CHINA DAILY

Chinese Olympic Games volunteer urges others to learn foreign languages, says Zhou Jin.

When athletes bathed in sweat fought for medals and records at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in July and August, volunteers in blue polo shirts with the Olympic logo were stationed on every corner inside and outside the venues to enable the Games to run smoothly.

Among them was the Chinese volunteer Hou Jiayi, who lives in the city of Nasu in northeastern Japan.

She said the work gave her a different perspective to see the gigantic sporting event, she felt a sense of achievement after helping her and allowing her to meet friends from different cultural backgrounds.

For Hou, who worked as a volunteer translator for media at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2016 at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, this was the third Olympiad.

“Serving at the Olympics frees me from everyday life and allows me to immerse myself in a completely different culture for a while,” said Hou.

At the games in Rio, the experienced volunteer experienced an orderly and well-organized game in Sochi and experienced a relaxed atmosphere that she described as a “colorful world”.

And at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, in which Hou said she would take part because she is familiar with the country and was able to use her language skills to the full – she speaks fluent Chinese, Japanese and English.

Shortly after moving to Japan and starting to work for a German company in Nasu three years ago, Hou applied for the volunteer position and went through a series of interviews and tests, and joined more than 70,000 registered volunteers for the Games.

The 28-year-old was responsible for collecting technical data at the Ariake Tennis Park during her ten-day volunteer service. The results could predict the outcome of a tennis match. It was a position that combined her enthusiasm for tennis with her technical background.

“Recording world-class games up close and personal is different from watching them on TV. The athletes are amazing.”

After volunteering for eight Paralympics tennis matches, Hou said her impression of the Paralympics has changed.

While recording a women’s double in wheelchair tennis, she was amazed at the speed and power of a Chinese player who, in her opinion, hit balls as fast as non-disabled athletes.

“I felt like her wheelchair was flying,” added Hou.

She was already enlightened through the volunteer training before the Olympic Games 2020, which taught the volunteers to change stereotypical views on athletes with disabilities and to communicate and communicate with them on an equal and respectful basis.

“We’re just different but the same, so pity is unnecessary.”

Three months prior to her voluntary service, she was the torchbearer for the 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, the only foreigner selected to serve in the Nasu area.

As a torchbearer, Hou said she wanted to show the charm of Nasu, a ski holiday and home to the region’s hot springs, from the perspective of a foreigner and serve as a bridge between the people of Nasu and visitors from around the world.

“The Olympic Games not only promote sporting exchange, but also the interaction of different cultures, and while introducing the host country to the world, the locals can also better understand the outside world.”

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