So, my Olympic experience is half over, and I am having a memento mori moment. Trying to take in as much as I can in the 10 days of volunteering I have remaining. To say it’s been sublime is really an understatement. It is hard to imagine what it’s like to be working on the world’s largest stage. I worked two of the three biggest pay-per-view boxing events of all time (Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao & Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez), and the Olympics is similar to having a couple of those events every day, even without fans.
It can be quite overwhelming, but I’ve broken my role down into a simple two-step job description, give smiles and solve problems. Some of my colleagues ask me why I am always happy. It’s simple. I am at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. So I greet everyone with a smile and good morning, afternoon, or evening, depending on the situation. Last night many of the delegates looked exhausted after a day of moving from event to event from early morning to late in the evening. So I would say, “looks like you had a busy day today.” The response would often include a description of the games from their country’s point of view. One gentleman lost his phone, and we did our best to find it for him. That conversation started with a warm, “How can I help you, sir?”
Saturday night a delegate from Kazakhstan was running through the hotel lobby announcing that one of their athletes had made the Judo semifinals. He was so happy. Yeldos Smetov took the bronze medal that night.
Another delegate from central Africa was panicked because their National Olympic Committee President’s flight had been canceled. He was set to arrive the following evening with no way to make the hour-plus ride from Narita airport to his hotel. On top of that, he also needed an escort and driver for a full day’s schedule on the succeeding day. With a smile on my face, I listened carefully to his story, and cohesively organized his needs. Then went about getting him the support he needed to make the itinerary work to his expectations. A few days later, when I met the gentleman in the hotel lobby, accompanying his President, I told him I was happy to see them together. He immediately interrupted the President’s discussion and explained how I had assisted them. What an honor! Giving smiles and solving problems.
Yesterday, I tried to get the catering staff to keep the buffet open a little longer for IOC members to get some dinner between meetings. Unfortunately, this request fell on deaf ears, and the delegate settled for water. It seems simple enough to me that they could have made up a plate and had him take it with him. I guess not everyone thrives on solving problems.
Tomorrow is a new day. It’s another chance to mingle with people from all over the world without having to get on a plane. Looking forward to continuing this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Giving smiles and solving problems.
Yesterday was my first day of volunteer activities for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and it was full of intrigue. From the start to the end, it was all an enjoyable learning experience. Step 1 – Leave early, just in case I learned Murphy’s law, If something can go wrong, it will, very early in my
Nima Esnaashari has been living in Hyogo prefecture since 2010. He moved to Japan from the United States. He originally came to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching, also referred to as the JET Program.