Olympics

Renovations at Tokyo Games facilities leading to shortage of sports and exhibition facilities

JIJI

Renovation work on Olympic and Paralympic venues in Tokyo has been making it difficult for people to find places to play tennis and for companies to hold exhibitions.

At the sprawling Ariake Tennis Park in Koto Ward, where Olympic tennis and Paralympic wheelchair tennis events will be held, renovations began in November 2017 for 40 of the 49 tennis courts.

The rest were also closed by October 2018.

Some of the courts reopened last autumn, although only temporarily, and all the courts have been closed since late last year.

To make sporting facilities available for citizens, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched a program in 2018 for universities and companies to make their gyms, baseball fields, tennis courts and other facilities available to the public.

The program was used on 50 occasions in the year from April 2018, but the figure shot up the following year, to some 330 in April-November.

“Tokyo doesn’t have many tennis courts to start with. We are still short of them,” an official of the Tokyo Metropolitan Tennis Association said.

“There are many ‘court refugees’ out there.”

The Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Koto Ward, which will serve as the media center for the 2020 Games, has been undergoing partial renovations since April last year and the main exhibition building has been closed.

Comic Market, or Comiket, a popular trade fair where self-published fanzines are sold, has been held at the convention center every August, but last year it had to use multiple venues due to the work, adding an extra day to the event period to make up for less space.

This year, it will be moved up to May.

Some 250 exhibitions are expected to be canceled at Big Sight during the 20 month period beginning last April, causing a loss of an estimated ¥2.2 trillion in sales, according to the Japan Exhibition Association.

“Organizers are dealing with the situation by taking such measures as scaling down events, moving venues out of Tokyo and changing schedules,” said Isokazu Tanaka, head of the association’s secretariat.

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