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Only 6% of Tokyo firms have volunteer leave systems as 2020 Games approach: survey

(Image courtesy of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics need an estimated 90,000 volunteers to run smoothly, but only 6 percent of companies in Tokyo have systems in place for employees to take paid time off to volunteer, a Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry questionnaire has found.

In the results released recently, the proportion of companies that planned to make a volunteer-friendly paid-leave system hit just 5.8 percent -- signaling a possibly short-handed games.

The chamber sent the questionnaire about employee work-style and whether they can cooperate with traffic restrictions to be imposed during the Games to 10,000 businesses in the 12 Tokyo wards where Olympic and Paralympic venues are located from Oct. 10 to 25, and received responses from 1,200 companies.

Only 68 of those replied that they had a system in place to cover employees who wished to volunteer in 2020. When asked how many days a worker could take for volunteering, 27 percent said less than five days, 34 percent said five to nine days and the remaining 39 percent said 10 days or more.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other organizations will seek "event volunteers" to work directly at event venues and "city volunteers" to offer visitors tourist and other information at airports and train stations. However, these two jobs require at least 10 days of work for the former and five days or more for the latter in principle. The chamber pointed to the need for operators to consider volunteer conditions that make it easier to participate, based on the condition of existing volunteer leave systems.

The questionnaire also asked about companies' policies on cooperating with traffic restrictions during the event period. The results found that 36.4 percent of businesses said that they could cooperate, 28.7 percent deemed it impossible and 35.3 percent had no idea. One delivery service commented, "The delivery times (for things like home delivery) are decided by the customer -- not our company."

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