An estimated 300 members of the Japan Exhibition Association (JEXA) have protested outside the offices of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) due to the latter’s plans to use the Tokyo Big Sight facility as the international press centre for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics.
The exhibitions industry has opposed the use of Big Sight – the largest purpose built venue of its kind in Tokyo – since the city announced its decision in January. They estimate that 232 exhibitions will be cancelled and 78,000 exhibitions-related companies will lose around 230 billion yen (US$2.05 billion) in sales.
Organisers of the October 5 protest say the city government and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee have done nothing to solve the problem.
“The city government is not listening to us at all,” said Masato Hori, a spokesman for JEXA.
Meanwhile, the association has dismissed plans for a 23,000m2 temporary facility to serve as a venue for the duration of the Games, calling it “inadequate”.
And while the organisers have recently agreed to make one part of Big Sight available for an additional five days and the temporary facility for 35 extra days, event companies say it will still cause “Olympic bankruptcies”.
“It does not solve the problem at all,” said Takaki Shimo of the newly formed Protect the Life and Employment of People Working in the Exhibition Industry organisation.
“The size of the temporary exhibition hall is one quarter the size of the current site. Therefore, job opportunities for exhibitors, exhibition support companies and craftsman will shrink to a quarter of the present scale,” he told TTGmice, adding that it would affect many small to medium enterprises.
In a statement issued to TTGmice, a spokesman for the 2020 Olympic organising committee said that it is “aware that there have been some concerns raised about the use of Tokyo Big Sight during the Games.”
As a result, in conjunction with the city government, the period of time that some venues will be in use has been reduced, and the temporary exhibition facility will be available for a longer time.
“Tokyo 2020 will continue preparing for the Games in cooperation with TMG,” the official added. “We believe that from the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre at Tokyo Big Sight, we will deliver to the world great stories about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”