As the final medals were placed around the necks of the athletes; the volunteers were busy setting the stage for the press conference that followed shortly thereafter. We have come to the end of the Olympic Games! The event only lasted 16 days, but each of those days was filled with excitement.
My journey to become an Olympic volunteer started in 2019 with training sessions, guides and interviews highlighting the vision of the games “Unity through diversity”. The city of Tokyo has transformed in the years leading up to the event and even without international spectators we were all determined to have a safe and successful Olympics.
The day has come to pick up my uniform. The Japanese government is committed to making the event as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The uniforms were therefore made from recycled polyester and plant materials. The first day began with a meeting with the diverse team of volunteers. Many were Japanese citizens living in Tokyo, others were from Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand and were studying at universities in Japan. Our team leaders came from Russia and Canada and had a lot of experience under their belt as former managers at the Rio Games. I proudly waved my flag and shared some facts about myself and my country during our team orientation session. Some of my teammates had heard about the Trinidad Carnival and still wanted to visit it, others knew the names of our star athletes and they all joined me in clapping loudly every time one of our athletes competed. “Diversity Through Unity” written on the walls in our training room summed up the experience of working with people of all ages, speaking different languages and from different countries, working together as one team.
During the games, our team of volunteers was responsible for assisting the media, journalists and photographers who came to cover the water polo events at the Tokyo Aquatic Center. At one of the games, I managed to catch a stray water polo ball that was thrown out of the pool, nearly knocking over the group of photographers lined up like pins in a bowling alley. After the medal ceremony, volunteers helped direct the photographers to their positions and take the athletes to their interviews safely. During the press conference, the athletes expressed their deepest gratitude to all who helped make these Olympics possible.
On the last day of the games we could feel the surge of excitement seeing the medal games and the tinge of sadness at the end of something unforgettable. You often hear about the “Olympic spirit” and I thought it was only for athletes, but as the Olympic credo says “the most important thing in the Olympics is not to win but to participate” .
Learn more about the JET program on the website of the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago (https://www.tt.emb-japan.go.jp/itprtop_en/index.html) and on the page Facebook (https: // www. Facebook.com/JapanEmbTT)