The race is on for volunteer interpreters for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
French to English
Volunteer Aug 12, 2016

Whay volunteers? Why not paid professionals?


TB CommuniCAT  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
Member (2014)
English to French
@ Nikki Aug 12, 2016

I understand your point of view. Although, Olympics are mostly based on volunteers.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Because the IOC is greedy Aug 12, 2016

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Why volunteers? Why not paid professionals?

Why spend money on paid professionals, when they have thousands of language students eager to get some practice, and possibly meet some newsworthy stars.

Of course, sponsored TV stations will hire professional interpreters to interview athletes.


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:04
German to Serbian
+ ...
Answer - my try. Aug 12, 2016

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Whay volunteers? Why not paid professionals?

So that a professional athlete and their sponsors may earn millions per month? If other people weren't so underpaid, they couldn't be so overpaid.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:04
Member (2007)
+ ...
"allow students to deepen their knowledge" Aug 13, 2016

It seems there is no end to the euphemisms available when you're wanting work from people but you don't fancy paying for it. We used to call it "conning" people, but I suppose that isn't PC nowadays.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
French to English
Professional athletes Aug 13, 2016

The athletes competing are not always professional. In France, the press has reminded us of the fact that very few of them actually live from their sport. In one recent TV documentary I saw, "on average" a French athlete competing in Rio barely earned more than 500€ a month. It all depends on what factors were taken into account to arrive at that sum, but many do actually work part- or even full-time. Sponsorship often covers equipment, gear, clothing maybe even a little bit of travel etc. It does not always extend to a regular salary.

So whilst a number of big names can earn colossal amounts of money in sport, the average athlete does not necessarily earn a living from it. Also, we need to bear in mind that until the 1990's, the Olympics were only open to amateurs. Technically speaking, until then, athletes could not compete if they earnt money from their sport. It became too difficult to control and so the rule disappeared. There is thus a tradition of non-professional competitors.

As the source field becomes increasingly professionalised, but not for all, it is a shame that those in "satellite" positions don't follow suit.

Examples :

[Edited at 2016-08-13 11:36 GMT]


Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Even the AIIC Aug 13, 2016

used volunteers at their last conference. Doesn't this say it all?


Michael Grant
Local time: 06:04
Japanese to English
The article highlights this issue. Aug 15, 2016

I appreciate the fact that the article mentions this:

Noriyuki Nishiyama, a language policy professor at Kyoto University, said some of the tasks left to volunteers will apparently require interpretation skills, and asking such professionals to work for free showed the committee’s underestimation of the hard work that goes into becoming proficient in a foreign language.


Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
To offer more language services as an extra service Aug 17, 2016

There will no doubt be some paid interpreters working on various parts connected to the Olympics. There will also be paid medical doctors, and other professionals. But to provide more services to more people, they will also need volunteers.
I have just come back from Rio as a volunteer where I used, among other things, my language skills. It was part of the reason I was chosen as a volunteer, although I was not there specifically as an interpreter. There were also lots of medical professionals on the venue, also volunteers. And I am sure lots of others volunteered their professional skills too.

Why go as a volunteer? Because it is fun to be part of it all. I did the same in London. I would recommend it to anyone as a fantastic experience.


Eva Stoppa  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:04
English to German
+ ...
$1.8Bn Aug 22, 2016

Only this morning, I heard on the radio that $1.8Bn will be spent on the next olympic gammes.


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:04
German to Serbian
+ ...
Exactly. Aug 22, 2016

Eva Stoppa wrote:

Only this morning, I heard on the radio that $1.8Bn will be spent on the next olympic gammes.

When I referred to overpaid athletes, it was a general observation, not just about Olympic Games. A professional soccer player makes more than a brain surgeon? Where's the reasoning? And yes, I am sure there are many volunteers out there who will be more than happy to interpret for FIFA for free.


Viesturs Lacis  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
Member (2014)
English to Latvian
Supply and demand? Aug 22, 2016

Lingua 5B wrote:

A professional soccer player makes more than a brain surgeon? Where's the reasoning?

The best brain surgeons do not sell tens of thousands of tickets to the public every week for the privilege to see them work. Millions of people do not watch their TVs every week for the same. Brain surgeons are not paid to be the promoters of the latest products, since the advertisers know that most consumers will not take a second glance at an advertisement just because there is a famous brain surgeon depicted in it.

Brain surgeons undergo long years of training to perform a valuable service for the community. In recognition of that, they are, in most cases, compensated very well for it. However, just because athletes do not save lives it does not follow that they are less valuable to the society. For better or worse, many people voluntarily spend quite a lot of money to watch sports and express support for the athletes of their choice. Would they still do it if they didn't feel it benefits them somehow? In fact, so many sports fans do this that the best soccer/football/baseball/etc. teams earn hundreds of millions every year. If all athlete salaries would be artificially capped, the owners would pocket even more of the revenues, leaving (in comparison) peanuts to the actual earners. In short, the perception of "unfairness" of paying millions to entertainers exists only because many do not realize that the entertainers in question earn even more money to their employers and sponsors.

As an aside, the Olympics are hardly an appropriate context to raise the point about overpaid athletes. Most Olympic sports are barely (if at all) commercialized.

[Edited at 2016-08-22 10:00 GMT]


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