Photo:t-mizo on Wikimedia

Working with Olympic Dreams: Job Opportunities for Tokyo 2020

The time is drawing ever closer. With 2017 now half-way done, we are now looking at only 36 months or so until the big event gets underway, and there is still so much to see and do.

Much has been made in the media of the problems facing Tokyo 2020. The ongoing struggles of the organizing committee to balance the books whilst still maintaining the highest possible standards of spectacle, hospitality and class that visitors to Japan have come to expect, have been well-documented. What hasn’t as of yet been given such wide-ranging coverage in either the local or international press so far is the variety of opportunities that the Tokyo Olympiad offer for foreigners both in and outside Japan to further their careers as they help with the Olympic effort.

Photo: Stephen Kelly on Flickr

So here are some opportunities available now and in the near future thanks to Tokyo 2020.

Translators and Interpreters

OK, so this is quite an obvious one. Japan isn’t exactly top of the international league tables for second language acquisition and English levels here are consistently ranked amongst some of the lowest among the Asian developed nations. So, it goes without saying that when it comes to communication with visiting sportspeople, officials and dignitaries, the Japanese need all the help they can get!

Photo: Ætoms on Wikimedia

However, the need for translation and interpretation at the Olympics goes well beyond just that 4 week window in summer 2020. Even today, scores of translators and interpreters are working on translating marketing materials, information brochures and the like not just for the Tokyo organizing committee, but also for the various government agencies, such as the police, immigration and health bureaus who will be overseeing the event and insuring that it meets all international standards of health and safety.

Unlike most opportunities for foreigners in Japan, these kind of jobs are the sort where English isn’t actually the highest priority. Such is the diversity of the Olympic Games, where more than 100 different countries take part, that if you are a native speaker of one of the more obscure languages, and you have the ability to communicate in Japanese then you may well be in luck.

Guilhem Vellut on Flickr

As a first step it would be a good idea to contact the local sports ministry or Olympic governing body in your home country to let them know about your interest.

Most vacancies will be shared globally by the Olympics governing body the IOC, so be sure to look for the closest IOC office to your home country.

For translation work in Japan, usually an N1 level Japanese Language Proficiency Test certification is required, however there may be some cases where a lower level N2 or possibly even an N3 is acceptable if the translations are written and assignment based, rather than verbal and instantaneous.

Pay for translators can vary greatly depending on the employer and the assignment. More experienced translators or interpreters will, as one would expect, command higher fees.

Construction, Engineering and Planning

Even now, just three and a half years away from the opening ceremony, a huge amount of construction work has yet to be started, let alone completed. And it’s not just those huge stadia, running tracks and indoor arenas that need building. Tokyo’s entire infrastructure is in for something of a major overhaul. Everything from traffic controls to signage to sewage and water works will be up for review and probable renewal. So if you are an expert in any of these fields, then the Tokyo government probably wants to hear from you.

Lseaveratnif on Wikimedia

Additionally, it’s not just the government who will need help. With the increased popularity in footfall and spikes in sales expected both in the run-up to and the aftermath of an Olympic game, hotels, restaurants, bars and a whole host of other conference and banqueting venues are set to undergo aggressive expansions over the next couple of years. Again manpower will be at a premium with Japan, even as it stands facing up to shortfalls in both the construction and service industries. And unlike the controversies enveloping future sporting venues such as Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup, and Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, Japan has a long standing reputation of ensuring that workers’ rights are respected, salary is always paid in full, on time and to internationally acceptable levels and of course the safety and health of workers is continuously monitored and assessed at all times.

Photo: Guilhem Vellut on Flickr

In Japan, if you work here, you can rest assured, you are in good, safe hands.

Localisation and Tourism

This final sector is a little different, in that you may not necessarily have to relocate to Japan to get involved. Japan has seen a growth in foreign tourists every year, yet remains largely alien to great swathes of the global population. The Japanese are a hospitable, kind and welcoming people, but they do have some quite unique and strict rules that visitors will be expected to follow. This is where localization experts come in.

Photo: Brad Warner Japan on Wikimedia Commons

If you have studied Japanese history and culture, and if you have some ability in the language then perhaps you could help to prepare people in your home country for what to expect when they visit.

We all know the old stereotypical rules about taking off your shoes as you enter a house, being quiet at night and so on. But how many people in our country are aware of Japan’s drunk driving laws, or rules for recycling, or the correct way to use a Japanese traditional toilet? Somebody needs to teach your future Olympians and their fans about this stuff and it might as well be you!

In this instance these kind of jobs would probably be advertised in your home country. So try your local employment centre or government office for more information.

As you can see, there are no shortage of opportunities and exciting ways you can be a part of Tokyo’s Olympic Dream even if you don’t live here. Get online now and find out how you can get involved!

Here are some links:

IOC Website

Tokyo Paralympics Games Website

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