If it up were up to me, we would jump past the Superbowl entirely and skip right ahead to the Winter Olympics in Feb. 2018. I know, I know — no one actually said that I had to choose just one of the two sporting events. I make this declaration simply to demonstrate how freakin' excited I am for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. If you know me personally and you're reading this, you can consider me booked between Feb. 9 and Feb. 25. (No, seriously.) And if, like me, you're an Olympics superfan, you've probably wondered on at least one occasion how you can volunteer to work at the Olympic Village. How cool would that be? A chance to see the events IRL, an opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and what I'm sure are ample hot chocolate kiosks... sign. me. up.
If you have your sights set on volunteering at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, I apologize, in advance, for not providing you with instant gratification. The application window for PyeongChang volunteers opened on Jul. 1, 2016 and closed just four months later — so the opportunity is long gone. Ultimately, more than 22 thousand volunteers were recruited for the 2018 Games, according to the PyeongChang volunteer page. These hordes of helpful hands were placed in 17 unique job categories and seven service areas, including Games information, customer service, media, technology, protocol and language, sport, and medical services. Several thousand of the volunteers will be dispatched to the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, which will take place in PyeongChang between Mar. 9 and Mar. 18.
While the window of opportunity to throw your hat in the ring as a volunteer for 2018 has (sadly) closed, the good news is that you'll have another chance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. And while the exact start date for applications has yet to be announced, the 2020 Tokyo Games volunteer page notes that the window should open at some point in the summer of 2018, so by the time you're done obsessing over the Winter Olympics, it will be almost time to apply!
Prospective applicants must be 18 or older as of Apr. 1, 2020, and they'll need to be available for volunteer training sessions prior to the Olympics. Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with permission to stay in Japan are eligible to apply. Per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, securing this kind of permission will require a valid passport and visa, as well as information about your travels and the length of your stay. If you have Tokyo volunteer aspirations, you may want to start researching the visa process and requirements ASAP.
Since the volunteer applications for the 2020 Summer Games have yet to be released, I can't say for sure what the application itself will entail, but we can use the PyeongChang volunteer procedure as a starting point. Prospective volunteers for the 2018 Winter Games were required to indicate their volunteering experience, education, and language skills. They were also prompted to discuss any special skills or certification they had in the areas of winter sports, medicine, emergency treatment, IT, or communication. Finally, they had to note their availability during the Olympics (Tokyo volunteers will need to confirm that they can participate for at least 10 days), along with their preferred region and position.
Per a document entitled "Volunteering Strategy for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020," found on the official 2020 Tokyo Games website, the organizing committee will be in the market for two kinds of volunteers come the summer of 2018: Games Volunteers — who will be directly involved in supporting operations at competition venues and the Olympic Village — and City Volunteers, who will staff major transportation hubs and other tourist locations. Prior to the 2012 London Games, there were 10 times more applicants for the Games Volunteer positions than the City Volunteer spots. I can't say that I'm surprised. Given the choice, I would obviously rather being in the thick of things with the actual events than directing traffic at the airport.
Best of luck to all of the athletes preparing for their appearances at the 2018 Winter Games — but also (and perhaps almost as importantly), best of luck to all you hopeful volunteers for the 2020 Tokyo Games. I'll be pulling for you!