Photo: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

How to Go to the Olympics for Free

Budget Travel
by Tim Wenger Feb 15, 2018

The Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang are all the rage right now. The excitement of the competitions and ceremonies dominate the headlines, and I can’t help but wonder about the experience of being there to take it all in. There’s been only one thought on my mind since February 9: why am I not there?

Beyond the competitions themselves, being at the Olympics must be quite an experience to have. After all, where else are people from 190+ countries together in the same place at the same time? The biggest deterrent is, of course, the costs involved in getting to South Korea, or Japan for the 2020 Summer Games.

Travel, lodging, tickets — heading to the Olympics is nothing short of expensive as hell. But there is another way to get there, and have most of your expenses (aside from travel) taken care of: volunteer.

That’s right. You can volunteer to work at the Olympics. Think about it: the people, the culture, the parties, and of course, the events themselves. It’s an experience like no other (and just think about the Instagram post possibilities). Here’s the lowdown:

How to go to the Olympics for free:

    • 1.

What do Olympic volunteers do?

    • 2.

How to become an Olympic volunteer

    • 3.

Where to apply

1. What do Olympic volunteers do?

Olympic volunteers handle a number of tasks, including greeting and directing guests and answering their questions. “Volunteers will play a vital role in the smooth operation of the Games, providing support and information at competition venues and in the Olympic Village,” according to

“They will be engaged before, during and after the Games.”

2. What does it take to become an Olympic volunteer?

After perusing the Tokyo 2020 website and reading up on volunteer qualifications, it appears the only thing they don’t want are people who tend to succumb to immediate desires of the moment (such as work truancy or all-night ragers) and then let those decisions impact their ability to perform their duties.

There are a handful of basic requirements:

    • You must be at least 18 years old by April 1, 2020.
    • You must be able to commit to ten days of volunteering in addition to any applicable training sessions, and be open-minded enough to treat people with respect and dignity. Check!
  • Additionally, you must be either a Japanese citizen or obtain permission to stay in Japan throughout the course of the games and be stoked to be at the Olympics and be having the time of your life.

3. Get your application for Tokyo 2020 in early

According to, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will begin accepting applications for the 2020 summer games in Tokyo this summer. As the site says, the only ‘must-have’ is enthusiasm, meaning you don’t even have to have a specific job or niche in mind when you apply. Visit the official Tokyo 2020 website for full information and to get the process started.

Sound appealing? Get on it as soon as applications open. The committees received over 90,000 applications for about 22,000 volunteer opportunities for PyeongChang. Put your best foot forward!

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