Pin Collecting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Olympic Pin Collecting

Today will be my 13th day of volunteer activities, and along the way, I have enjoyed every day. You can check my previous post for evidence of that. One thing that has really become an interesting measure of the ability of each one of us volunteers to make a difference is the number of pins we receive. Some are tokens of friendship, others are presented for the length of service, while the most meaningful pins we receive are for doing some kindness for others.

Each country brings pins, and there are even pins for some events. Here is a pinboard with medals from all over the world.

On my team, I’ve become known as the pinking because I have received 13 pins in my 13 days. I attribute my success in acquiring pins to my friendly demeanor. I always wear a smile so big it can be seen through my mask. I also take every opportunity I get to strike up conversations. Occasionally these conversations end with the gift of a pin.

Olympic Commemorative Pins

The real pin royalty, however, is the transport team (pictured above). They arrange cars for IOC and NOC (National Olympic Committee) members. Navigating Tokyo and its outlying areas where the different events are being held is not easy. The folks in transport arrangements take most of the stress of getting from event to event and back to the hotels again. Of all the contractors I’ve met, they are the only ones with more than a couple of pins.

As volunteers, we are awarded pins for service. A bronze for three days, silver for five, and gold for 10 days of volunteering. These milestones remind me of the people I’ve met and the new friendships that will hopefully continue to grow after these Games are over.

To me, these two pins are the most valuable, Olympic Solidarity and Guyana. You may have never heard of Olympic Solidarity. They are the organization that allocates broadcast and other Olympic royalty revenues to countries that don’t have the disposable funds to build athletics programs. Not only do they support the Olympic aspirations of athletes in these countries, but they also develop youth sports programs.

I had never heard of Olympic Solidarity before volunteering, and now I understand the importance of their programs for the countries that send just a handful of athletes to international competitions like the Olympics. Those athletes are really what makes the Games so special. I received my Olympic Solidarity pin for helping them secure proxy tickets for the opening ceremonies.

My Guyana pin will always remind me of providing assistance to their NOC in acquiring a personal assistant, a volunteer assigned to help the visiting dignitaries. This opportunity began with a smile and analysis of a troubled-looking face.

Regardless of if pins are given out to everyone in the lobby for merit or as an act of kindness, each pin represents a memory I will carry with me forever. Not many people have had the opportunity to be at the Olympics this year. I am happy to count myself as one of them.

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