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International Coronary Congress (ICC): The Value of In-person Events in Tokyo

From the 1st to the 3rd of December, under the title of "Coronary Week 2022," the 8th International Coronary Congress (ICC), the 25th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Association for Coronary Artery Surgery (JACAS), and the 34th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Coronary Association (JA) came together as a combined event at the JP Tower Hall & Conference in Tokyo.

The International Coronary Congress was first held in New York in 2015 and has since met annually, alternating between New York and cities outside of America. Tokyo was honored with hosting the prestigious Congress's first in-person gathering since the pandemic.

MICE Japan interviewed the President of the Japanese Association for Coronary Artery Surgery, the initiator of "Coronary Week 2022," and ICC 2022 Program Chair Dr. Hirokuni Arai just before the opening of the eagerly awaited Congress.

 Please tell us about the significance of these 3 conferences coming together as "Coronary Week 2022" 

Coronary Week was my proposal. I thought ICC coming to Tokyo was an indispensable chance to incorporate our domestic Japanese conferences into the event for a unique gathering in the history of the Congress. To explain the relationship between the associations, ICC is an international congress in the field of coronary surgery and is closely related to the Japanese Association for Coronary Surgery, and the Japanese Coronary Association discusses coronary disease more generally. By inviting these three organizations to come together, I wanted to broaden the scope of the discourse. If we discuss only surgery, we will become blind to non-surgical treatments. Thus, I wanted to include internal medicine specialists to increase awareness of the non-surgical treatment solutions available and when they are more appropriate.

This format also saves attendees time as there are many medical conferences, and doctors want to limit their time away from their hospitals. Two similar organizations, both targeting the same disease, are like brother associations, so to speak. By holding both congresses at one venue, the time investment for participants is significantly reduced, the organizers can save on costs, and we can have a more in-depth discussion by bringing a wider range of experts to the table.

Uncertainty regarding event sponsorship due to the pandemic was also a reason to combine our events. Linking ICC with two other domestic conferences maximized attendance while avoiding various risks, steering the Congress towards success. Depending on feedback, we may continue linking our meetings as there is clearly great merit to doing so. I believe this will be a popular new model for international conferences in the future.

Why was Tokyo chosen as the Congress destination?

Tokyo was chosen because of its truly unique appeal. This year 23 international faculty members are coming from outside Japan, and normally, the organizers cover their business class return tickets and hotel costs and also pay them a reward. However, as a result of the pandemic, there were budgeting difficulties. We could not cover flight costs, only paid hotel costs for 2 nights, and could not pay them the monetary reward. Despite these circumstances, almost every one of them decided to come to Japan for the Congress. This illustrates that Tokyo, as a city like no other, was somewhere they sincerely wanted to visit for themselves.

As for the venue, we chose JP Tower because of its close proximity to Tokyo Station. The foyer overlooks the elegant station, adorned with beautiful illuminations at this time of year. Furthermore, regarding transport links, the same-day return tickets between Tokyo Station and Kyoto are a valuable opportunity for our guests from abroad.

The reception will be held at the Tokyo Station Hotel. This magnificent building is one of Tokyo's best. Regarding budget, it was an expensive choice, but it is an event of large scope, and we wanted our guests to fully appreciate Tokyo's unique charms during their stay.

In support of the event, the headquarters of the Japanese Association for Coronary Surgery, as the host society, provided a financial subsidy and generous support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, including financial assistance with venue costs, hybrid event equipment costs, and in-kind provision of attractions for the welcome party was also indispensable in bringing the Congress to Tokyo.

Looking to the future of ICC, I sincerely wish that the Congress annually alternates between Tokyo and New York. It is quite difficult for Asian participants to travel to New York as it is expensive, and the time difference is significant. If we bring the event to Tokyo, participants can attend the same sessions closer to home and experience everything ICC has to offer in a one-of-a-kind destination. In this way, Tokyo is the Asian region's ideal hub for international conferences.  

 *Excerpt from an article in the February 2023 issue of the MICE Japan magazine