Photo/IllutrationFliers soliciting volunteers for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games are distributed in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Non-Japanese accounted for 37 percent of the 186,101 people who applied to volunteer at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, a figure more than double the limit of 80,000, the Tokyo organizing committee said.

“We found out that more people than expected were interested in volunteering,” a relieved Toshiro Muto, chief executive officer of the committee, said at a news conference on Dec. 26.

However, even after the committee whittles down the number to 80,000, the high percentage of foreign volunteers could exacerbate the problem of finding accommodations in the capital during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The ratio of non-Japanese applicants dwarfed the single-digit percentages of foreign volunteers for the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Sixty-three percent of the applicants for the Tokyo Olympics were female, Muto said.

By age group, people in their 20s accounted for 29 percent of the total, followed by teens at 22 percent, people in their 40s and 50s at 14 percent each, and people in their 30s at 12 percent. Those in their 60s and 70s made up a collective 9 percent of all applicants, he said.

The applicants were allowed to choose up to three fields of activity for their volunteer work.

The most popular choice, picked by 108,784 applicants, was working at competition venues.

Only 6,140 applicants chose driver or transporting people between venues. The committee needs 10,000 to 14,000 volunteers for this field, so it plans to fill the shortage from among the more than 40,000 people who did not specify any desired field of activity.

The organizing committee is scheduled to start briefing sessions and interviews in February in 12 areas nationwide, including Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, to best match the applicants’ desires and the fields where they will do their volunteer work.

Those recruited will be offered training sessions in a unified “curriculum” from October next year.

In March 2020, they will be assigned their roles and venues.

As for where they will stay during their volunteer activities, Muto has said the committee’s policy is for the volunteers to secure accommodations on their own.

Another committee official recently said the committee will provide the necessary information to the volunteers.

Chiharu Nishikawa, 58, a special researcher at the Sasakawa Sports Foundation who has been an Olympic volunteer three times, said, “There are many feasible ways (to secure accommodations), including making the best use of ‘minpaku’ private lodgings or having local governments adopt programs to seek host families.”

In a separate framework for the Tokyo Olympics, 36,649 people applied to volunteer for the host city, the Tokyo metropolitan government said on Dec. 26.

(This article was written by Daisuke Maeda and Ari Hirayama.)