Case Studies

Chapter 4: Case Study

Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Case Study

This case study and case problems that follow were adapted from the publicly available volunteer strategy for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Japan hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics from July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo. The event, commonly known as Tokyo 2020, was the second hosting by the country after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Most games will be played at venues within the prefecture of Tokyo or areas nearby. Twenty-eight of 32 competition venues are clustered around Tokyo within a 5-mile radius of the Olympic village, the residence facilities for athletes and staff. Eleven new venues are currently under construction. The Tokyo Metropolis is the largest metropolitan city in Japan. In fact, the Greater Tokyo area and its surrounding cities represent the most populous city in the world. Tokyo has a population of 39 million residents, with an economy equivalent in size to the eighth largest economy in the world.

Volunteer Program

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has a vision statement, “Unity in Diversity.” The 2020 Olympics Committee promotes this vision in the volunteer program by encouraging volunteer participation from people with diverse backgrounds. One of the program’s goals is that through the volunteering experience, people will continue to remain active in their volunteering roles in their communities after the games.

The committee has implemented the volunteer program of the London 2012 Games as its template for running its volunteer program. The program has volunteers organized into two groups with different roles for the games: game volunteers and city volunteers.

  1. Game Volunteers aid in the operation at the competition venues, media centers, and Olympic villages. The tasks involve providing support in the following areas: operation of games at the venues, security checks at the Olympics facilities, operation of the Olympics village, registration and issuance of IDs for the Olympic athletes and staff, and equipment checks and distribution of them to the venues. They are active prior to and for the duration of the games. Table 1 depicts a sample of the job descriptions and specifications for “games volunteers” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (TMG & TOCOPG, 2016).
  2. City Volunteers guide those visitors with tourism and transportation information and, provide them with directions to game venues. City volunteers are deployed for athletes, staff members, and visitors at major transportation points, such as airports, major train stations, and popular tourist attractions. Special booths are set up at those locations to welcome athletes, staff personnel, and spectators to Japan.

Volunteer leaders of either group are responsible for checking attendance of team members and acting as liaisons in the event of emergencies.

Job Descriptions and Specifications for “Games Volunteers” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Activity Description (Examples)
Guidance at venues Guide spectators and those affiliated with the games at venues, check tickets, provide support for regulating entrance to venues, etc.


Doping control Provide support for doping inspectors as they test athletes who have finished competition.


Driver Transport those affiliated with the games between venues by car.


Workforce registration Sign in workforce at venues. Check the workforce member’s shift by referring to their personal ID and relay necessary information to them.


Uniform distribution Pass out uniforms to workforce members (volunteers and others) at a uniform distribution facility.


Media support Provide support to Japanese and foreign media covering the games at venues, the Press Center, and other locations.


Language services Provide communication support to those affiliated with the games, including athletes, the media, and foreign dignitaries.


Support for teams Support the teams that come from around the world. Start preparations prior to the teams entering the Olympic Village to facilitate a comfortable stay.


Logistics support Support the management and organization of goods brought to competition venues, the Olympic Village, etc.

Note. The table content of job descriptions and specifications came from the publicly available volunteer strategy provided by Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020.


Case Problems 

The Olympic Committee has approached your group as an event volunteer/team program team to develop a plan for recruiting team of volunteers in accord with the Olympic vision of “Unity in Diversity.” You are the Human Resources Specialist on the team. The committee is interested in how to encourage people with diverse backgrounds to volunteer for the games. Particularly, they aim to achieve two specific goals: 1) enlist first-time volunteers and 2) reach out to groups, such as seniors or new immigrants, who have been largely neglected as potential volunteers.

  1. Discuss the role of trust in building this team of volunteers.
  2. How would you plan motivation for this team?
  3. According to the literature on volunteers for a major sport game, seven benefit categories were identified that volunteers experienced from participating in a major sport event (Doherty, 2009; Kim et al., 2018).

Match each benefit category on the left with corresponding items (two items per benefit) on the right.

1. Community contribution 1. Giving something back to community
2. Skill enrichment 2. Watching sport events while on volunteer duty
3. Being part of the game 3. Gaining unique experiences
4. Extrinsic rewards 4. Games volunteer uniforms
5. Positive memories 5. Acquired practical skills
6. Social development 6. Helping the community succeed
7. Experience the organization of running a sport event
8. Meeting different people
9. Working together with other volunteers
10. My skills are being utilized
11. Aiding athletes to perform
12. Food and souvenirs

Below are some constraints that keep people from volunteering for the games. Match the constraints with solutions that the committee recommends.

1. I have no time to volunteer. Share compliments from the participants and attendees about volunteers and recognize their contributions publicly.


2. I want to volunteer, but I do not know how to begin. Disseminate recruitment programs via multiple channels and provide simple application process online and offline.


3. I do not feel I am making any impact as a volunteer. Provide flexible volunteer schedule options that allow for work-life balance. Pick-up and drop-off services are provided by running a shuttle bus in the area.


4. I have no other people to volunteer with me. Create a group volunteer program and promote opportunities for social interactions via volunteering.




Volunteer Management: The Case of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ” by Heeyle (Jason) Park and Eric Olson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



Chapter 4: Case Study Copyright © 2022 by Debra Patterson. All Rights Reserved.

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