Few foreign volunteers in Tokyo-2020, but very specific – 03/08/2021

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TOKYO, Aug 3, 2021 (AFP) – To volunteer at the Tokyo Olympics, Tsan Wong and his wife Rever Yau paid $5,000 for plane tickets, dinner and mandatory hotel quarantine upon their return to Hong Kong.

A former Commonwealth fencing champion, Wong is one of the few foreign volunteers allowed to participate in the Games because of her sporting experience.

Hundreds of other candidates who wanted to come from abroad have had to give up in recent months because of the many hurdles caused by the pandemic.

The Tokyo Games have very strict hygiene rules, most venues have no spectators – which limits the number of volunteers – and athletes are subjected to daily tests for the coronavirus.

Tsan Wong, 55, also tests daily, as she is responsible for the fencing warm-up area, a game she finished on Sunday.

He is the president of the Hong Kong Fencing School, where Edgar Cheung Ka-long, Tokyo gold medalist, trained as a teenager.

When a horse is in danger of overheating at an equestrian event, Miranda Stavley, who came from the UK to work free in sports, knows exactly what to do.

The day AFP visited it, he treated a horse with very cold water, which later raced ‘cross-country’ and even won a bronze medal.

“Since I love horses, I can do it very easily,” explains Stavley, who works as a computer scientist and has volunteered at the London-2012 and Rio-2016 Games.

Since most volunteers live in Japan, Stavli helped train less experienced colleagues in Tokyo.

Due to doubts about the quarantine, the British have hesitated to travel to the Japanese capital, where she is only moving in an ‘Olympic bubble’ between the headquarters and her hotel. “But it’s worth it,” he says.

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Bruce Danbury’s life is closely related to field hockey, which he practiced from the age of eight. Later, he volunteered in several championships including the previous Olympic Games.

“Hockey has given me so much that it’s wonderful to be able to give a little bit back to the sport when I can,” the 45-year-old Briton told AFP.

He usually meets a large group of volunteers from his country he knows, but this time he is alone in Tokyo, he explains.

While living with the restrictions of COVID is not easy, Danbury sees the bright side. “It’s like a very expensive vacation, working 15 hours a day instead of being on the beach,” he says.

kaf / ras / pm / psr / aa

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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