Japanese Field Cast volunteer talks about his excitement for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Games
Today, 3 December, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Tokyo 2020 spoke with HORIKAWA Hiroyuki, a Field Cast member (Games volunteer) who became paraplegic following a 2012 traffic accident, about what it means to take part at an Olympic Games on home soil.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to welcome the Games to Japan. I’ll enjoy it with a big smile,” he said.
Volunteering while preparing to return to work
Nowadays, Horikawa leads a busy life, helping to organise professional football matches and local walking events in different regions, as well as participating in a surfing group that supports people with dementia. But when he first suffered his accident, he became depressed and didn’t venture outside for a couple of years.
A turning point came in July 2017 when a friend asked Horikawa to attend a swimming event for people with impairments in Kamakura, Kanagawa. Supported by volunteers, Horikawa took a splash in the water in his wheelchair. He hadn’t been in the sea for a long time and it was the last thing he had expected to do. The experience moved him and gave him the confidence to become a volunteer himself. And as an avid sports fan, he decided to volunteer for sport-related roles.
When the opportunity to volunteer at Tokyo 2020 arose, Horikawa was determined not to miss out, so he applied to become a Field Cast volunteer. Now that he has been accepted, he had this to say about the upcoming experience: “I want to meet many people through the volunteer activities and grow as a person so I can return to work one day. Volunteering at the Tokyo 2020 Games is the last stage of that journey.”
“I want to feel the world” at the Games
Volunteers are essential for the success of many events, and they will play a huge role in making the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 an unforgettable experience for audiences.
During the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Horikawa will assist with the issuing and management of accreditation cards. All Games-related personnel, from athletes to the media, must carry an official accreditation when entering the competition venues and other access-controlled areas. He will be volunteering at the International Stadium Yokohama, a venue close to his home that will host the football competition. “It was destiny,” he says.
He’s also excited about experiencing first-hand the atmosphere of an Olympic Games: “I want to feel the world. There’ll be athletes and visitors from all over the world, and I’m excited just thinking about the special atmosphere you can only experience at the official venues.”
The members of the Field Cast will work as a team during the Games and Horikawa feels it is important for members to keep smiling in order to maintain a sense of togetherness.
“Sometimes things don’t go well, but whether or not you have an impairment, you can get by if the whole team can remember to keep smiling.”
Following his accident, Horikawa gradually began to smile again, thanks to the people who supported him throughout his rehabilitation. And he has a message of encouragement for people with an impairment who are trying to move forward with their lives: “With a little bit of courage, you can take a step forward. Just a tiny step will change your world.”