Sports volunteering is an adventure, a new experience, the pursuit of passion for sport, new friends. This is the way most often, in superlatives, it is written about volunteering. You can find a similar tone on my blog (because it’s all true?).
This year, however, there were also many negative emotions, most often among experienced and committed volunteers (the entire article is also based on my personal experience this year).
We are talking about two big events carried over from last year. Further, the pandemic situation is difficult and the events will definitely not be organized under normal conditions.
The world, individual countries and organizing committees certainly have a more important problems than several hundred disappointed volunteers.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning and discussing.
Should they even take place? The pandemic situation in Japan is bad, the society is against. But that’s a topic for a completely different discussion.
It looks like the Games will take place, and up to 80,000 volunteers will help. According to various sources, 8-10,000 are international volunteers, but most of them live in Japan. There were supposed to be about 2,000 of international ones arriving especially.
In March, this group of people got very unpleasant news: you cannot participate, you cannot enter the country.
2,000 is a small number among the total number of volunteers. It is also a very small number compared to how many people will come to the event in addition to the athletes and their support. Service, officials, media.
There were questions as to whether such a group of volunteers could not be admitted, of course with ordering tests.
Especially since recruitment for volunteering involves many candidates and a long process, and the application was closed at the end of 2018. People had accommodation and flights booked (yes, the volunteer pays for them) and they just lost a lot of money.
Regardless of the legitimacy of such a decision, the way in which it was communicated aroused the most emotions.
The information appeared in the media a few days earlier, before the people themselves were officially informed. And these were not media rumors, but information from news agencies, which operate on the basis of good and official sources.
And when the email finally came, it was something like this:
The situation is such and such, sorry, but foreign volunteers are not allowed to enter. Go to your account and click ‘I want to withdraw’.
It aroused a lot of emotions and resistance, because hello, why should I click that I don’t want to attend, if I want ?! It is possible that the application system was constructed this way, but after all, a brief explanation was sorely lacking.
I know that some international media got interested in the situation, although the story was quickly lost in the maze of other information.
Euro is a slightly different situation, because it is played in 11 countries and each country has different entry restrictions. Each country also decided whether to additionally facilitate the entry of fans with tickets for the match, which was done by, for example, Hungary and Russia or not – such as the United Kingdom, where you have to undergo a 10-day quarantine and do 3 PCR tests at your own expense (or 5 -day and 4 tests).
Well, what about volunteers who want to come to a given country especially for Euro? Mostly no facilitation, unfortunately.
My Euro story
I was supposed to volunteer during the Euro in Scotland. Why exactly there? Because it is a beautiful country? And English as local language. It’s just easier to get some specific roles when you don’t have a language barrier, and in London, that met this criterion, I expected crowds of candidates.
In addition, the drawing of the groups was great, because Croatia, which I support, is playing there. And I speak Croatian, which could have been useful during my work.
My initial role was VIP Guest management, then it was changed to ACE volunteer. It is such a man “for everything”, you act wherever there is a need.
Departure and trip planned, days off adapted to my changes at the stadium, vaccination dates to departure dates.
There was only a problem to get to UK, but the country started to open up to some countries, so I had a plan here too. Media reports talked about more countries that would jump on the green list, even mentioning Poland, which, based on the statistics, made sense. The day of announcing the new list of green countries came. And what turns out? Nothing new is added and my only non-quarantine emergency road, with a coffee stop in Portugal, is cut off in 3 days.
But! I find regulations that mention the possibility of release from quarantine (3 PCR tests I would have to buy and do anyway) various groups involved in the championship, e.g. media and “logistics, administrative and technical personnel”, in addition there is a note that this list is not limited to the listed persons only. Is there hope?
There is no. Volunteers do not apply here.
So who are the volunteers who spend 10-15 days (7 hours each) in the stadium, if in such exceptional circumstances they are not treated as staff?
I really started to wonder. What do you think?
Unfortunately, I do not know what the situation was in other countries. In part of them, it was certainly easier, because entry is generally easier, in Italy or Spain it is just 1 antigen test.
It seems that I will have to wait for volunteering (because as a fan, I have already completed both events?) during Olympic Games and Euro.
And maybe I look at it all through the prism of my emotions?
Let me know what was your experience and what you think about these situations from your perspective, I am very curious!