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I’m a Malaysian and I volunteered at the Tokyo Paralympics. This is how it looks like behind the scenes

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As Told By: How Yee Yap, Tokyo Paralympics Volunteer

Six Years In Japan

“I am a Malaysian student studying life science and engineering at Hokuriku Chihō, Japan.

Image provided by How Yee

It’s my sixth year here and I decided to spend my last Summer break volunteering at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

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Multiple volunteering positions were cancelled when the Olympics was postponed.

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Many have asked me to withdraw from the volunteering program as the COVID-19 situation in Japan worsens.

But I told them I would regret it if I quit.

How yee in front of the tokyo olympics stadium.
How Yee in front of the Tokyo Olympics Stadium.

As such, I took a 7 hours bus trip to Tokyo.”

A day’s routine at the Tokyo Paralympics

According to How Yee, every Tokyo Paralympics volunteer works approximately eight hours a day, inclusive of breaks and standby times.

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How yee working as a paralympics volunteer
How Yee with his volunteer buddies.

His tasks fall under the ‘Field Care’ category, where he’s required to assist the athletes and keep a sharp eye on who enters the warm-up tracks.

He was also indirectly assigned to translation duties as there weren’t many who could speak multiple languages fluently like he did.

How Yee, who can converse in fluent Mandarin, English, Malay and Japanese, said that being multilingual has given him an advantage in assisting the delegations and Paralympians.

While it sounds mundane to most, How Yee takes pride in fulfilling his duty especially when he’s able to help solve problems.

I also happened to see a few Malaysian Paralympians in action. It was fascinating to witness them go all out for the country,” he says.

Perks Of Being A Tokyo Paralympics Volunteer

Aside from being able to visit a beautiful country, How Yee also showed us other perks he enjoyed such as three sets of limited edition Tokyo volunteer T-shirts, a pair of running shoes, a jacket, and a special edition VISA credit card.

How yee shows his volunteer set for the tokyo paralympics.
The volunteer set.

On top of that, he also receives a subsidy of 1,000 yen (RM37.75) a day.

But for How Yee, who lives seven hours away from Tokyo and stays at a hotel during the Paralympic Games, the subsidy barely covers it.

Surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to dim his enthusiasm in volunteering.

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“Having said that, my biggest takeaway is the unique experience of being involved in the games.

Thus, I didn’t really expect much as it’s voluntary work. It’s my passion for the job that really pushes me forward.

He also shared that despite only working eight hours a day, he would occasionally work longer than usual as the committee might need additional assistance.

A usual lunch at the tokyo paralympics.
A usual lunch of a Tokyo Paralympics volunteer.

“Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t chat or take pictures with the athletes as part of the Games’ safety measures. But this is totally understandable as the committee wanted to ensure every volunteer’s safety,” he says.

The volunteering process

Despite Tokyo Paralympics volunteer receiving only 1,000 Yen per day, the selection process is hard.

How Yee told WeirdKaya that all the applicants have to go through various screening processes.

Outside of the Tokyo Olympics Stadium.

Firstly, the committee will conduct a background check.

Next, applicants are requested to attend a briefing session, during which the one-on-one interviews are conducted.

Fluent different languages is an advantage the committee highly regards. Malaysian will stand have a higher chance.

After a few rounds of interviews, the committee will then notify applicants on their status.

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Initially, How Yee enrolled as an Olympics volunteer. However, his job was cancelled due to health and security regulations prohibiting spectators.

Volunteers queuing up to enter the Tokyo Olympics Stadium.

Luckily, he was still able to volunteer at the Paralympics game.

An unforgettable experience

With the Games officially over, How Yee shared that this was one of the best decisions he has ever made.

Badge set received by How Yee.

“I feel so lucky that I was able to volunteer for the Paralympics as many volunteers are still waiting for replacement as the Games now take place without spectators,” Yap added.

Witnessing the determination of Paralympians live in action has greatly touched him.

I was moved by the Paralympians, who despite being born different, chose to overcome their physical disability.

Image via Youtube/Paralympics Games

Furthermore, seeing the Malaysian Paralympics Team show their unwavering support to our athletes gave me a sense of pride.

How Yee concluded what an honour it was to be able to experience this in person.

Tokyo 2020 games have ended on a high note, but the hard work and the memories during the games will last forever.

Thank you to the organizing committee and every volunteer who work tirelessly during the Games!


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Cover Images via How Yee Yap

Proofreader: Grace Choong