An industry body worried about losing business opportunities has recently submitted a petition to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and lawmakers requesting that Tokyo Big Sight be partially available for exhibition usage, given the postponement of the 2020 Games.

Japan’s largest convention center, located in Koto Ward, has not fully been used for exhibitions since last April, as it has been under construction to serve as the main press and international broadcast center for the Tokyo Games.

But now with the dates having officially been pushed back by a year amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the venue will likely have to be reserved for the sporting extravaganzas again next year.

This has triggered concerns among those in the exhibition industry, which has already been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as it would further take away business opportunities for a countless number of companies that would otherwise exhibit their products and services there.

Koji Sako, a vice chairman of the Japan Exhibition Association, told The Japan Times in a phone interview Thursday that the damages would be more “catastrophic” for small and midsized companies if their exhibition opportunities are taken away. The association expressed a fear that many smaller companies could be forced to go out of business if their exhibition opportunities are not secured or compensated for, as it requested through the petition.

“The bigger companies have abundant funds to spend for the promotions of their products. They can run ads in the media on their own. They have a lot of salespeople,” Sako said. “But small and midsized companies don’t have many means to promote their products and don’t have many salespeople either. So those exhibitions are the basis for their business and by losing those opportunities, they can’t go about their business activities. That’s a huge blow to them.”

In the petition, the association requests that another temporary exhibition center be built in the metropolitan area and to make Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture and part of Tokyo Big Sight available for exhibition use before and during the games.

According to the association, a total of over 83,000 firms including the exhibition hosts and exhibiting companies are estimated to lose about ¥2.5 trillion (about $23 billion) even if the games had been held as originally scheduled.

The association said that Tokyo Big Sight, officially called the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, has already been booked for exhibitions after December.

And if the venue has to be used for the games through November 2021, over 50,000 companies are estimated to face about ¥1.5 trillion in losses.

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