The operator of Tokyo Big Sight is attempting to play down criticism over the Japanese government's decision to close the city's largest convention centre for seven months before and during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, emphasising that it is open to discussions on adjustments to exhibition schedules.
That has done little to mollify companies and organisations in the exhibitions sector here, however, with the industry insisting that closure of Tokyo Big Sight between April and October 2020 will cause business event players massive losses.
Tokyo Big Sight
A spokesperson for Tokyo Big Sight - which is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government - said the operator "will be discussing and adjusting schedules with organisers".
The spokesperson added that events are customarily scheduled about 18 months ahead of time and that therefore no reservations have been cancelled.
He also pointed out that the plan to use Tokyo Big Sight as the media centre for the Games was clearly stated at the very outset of Tokyo's campaign to win the rights to host the 2020 Olympics.
Officials also emphasised that the operator has been cooperating with the exhibitions industry and reduced the amount of time that the venue is closed from the initially scheduled 20 months to just seven months, while an alternative facility is also going to be provided for exhibitions.
The temporary venue will cover 23,000m2 and be on a nearby site in the Odaiba district of the city.
"It is a nightmare," said Christopher Eve, a director of the Japan Exhibition Association and managing director of UBM Japan Co., which organises trade shows.
"Exhibitions are my business and we are a big company so we will survive, but a lot of these companies rely on events at Tokyo Big Sight, so if there are no tradeshows, they have no income, they have to lay off staff and, ultimately, they could go under," he said.
"Event organisers that have been using Tokyo Big Sight for years will find out that they have no venue in 2020 and will probably look to Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore for an alternative," he added. "And some of them might not come back. That is my biggest worry."