Revelations about doping in recent years have shaken the very foundations of the Japanese sporting world and its reputation for fair play. Many cases from cycling, swimming, speed skating and other disciplines are viewed as careless violations, with athletes thoughtlessly buying sports supplements without regard to the risk of consuming banned substances. It is undeniable, however, that such incidents have scarred the clean image Japan has built up over the years. With just two years until the 2020 Olympics, many are questioning whether the nation's athletes and sports associations have a good understanding of the issues. In January, revelations about the unprecedented misconduct of a Japanese canoeist shocked the public after he spiked the drink of a rival to frame him for doping.
With less than three years to go before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a surge of interest has been seen in people hoping to be trained to become Olympic volunteers, seen as vital to the smooth operation of the games. Olympic volunteers will be split into two categories -- those manning the daily activities at sporting venues, such as guiding spectators to their seats and working front desks, and others who will act as guides at airports, stations and tourist locations. Over 90,000 volunteers are expected to be needed during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will run from late July through early September. The hope is that many of them will also speak English and other foreign languages. "Since (Olympic) volunteers usually work with people they've just met, good communication skills are essential," an instructor from the Japan Sports Volunteer Network said in a lecture to about 70 students at Tokyo Resort & Sports College in the capital's Ikebukuro district in mid-August.
SOFIA – The morning before the closing ceremony of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, two young Bulgarian athletes waited nervously in the athletes village in Yoyogi Park. Expecting only to compete for their country, they had suddenly found themselves about to get married in the world's first wedding to be held inside an athletes village. "There have now been 17 marriages during the Olympics. All 16 others have ended in divorce," said Nikolai Prodanov, 78, bursting into laughter in his apartment in Sofia. "At least we haven't got divorced yet!"