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Tokyo 2020 facing severe security staff shortage

The number of security staff at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is likely to fall considerably short of the required amount, leading to organisers to reach out to Japan’s Self-Defence Forces for help.

Japan’s 2013 bid documents says a total of 50,850 security support staff would be needed, but the total number of guards required will likely surpass that estimate, with new sports such as baseball and surfing added, and venues being moved to different areas.

Although there are about 550,000 trained security guards in Japan, job openings surpass applications by more than eight times, according to the All-Japan Security Service Association, showing a serious labour shortage.

An official of the association said to Japan Today: “It’s difficult to recruit people because the job offers relatively low pay despite perceptions that it involves a high level of risk and tough working conditions.

“Some in the industry also tell me that it will be difficult to secure lots of guards for the Olympics because people already have their regular work.”

The Tokyo 2020 organisers have sought help from the SDF, Japan’s unified military forces established in 1954. But according to American international affairs magazine The National Interest, the SDF is also struggling with recruitment, failing to meet its targets the last decade.

Local media also reported that expected high temperatures in Japan during the Games could also hurt recruitment, despite the best efforts of the organising committee. A senior organising committee official responsible for security at the games said: ” We hope people who are unsure whether to apply will do so, reassured by our measures against the hot weather, including breathable and quick-drying uniforms.”

The committee have also decided on the use of facial recognition technology to confirm the identities of Olympic officials entering venues, as a way to cut down workforce numbers.