Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has claimed all events at the 2018 Asian Games should be held in Palembang for economic reasons.
The Indonesian capital had been named as the hosts of the quadrennial event following last year’s Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) General Assembly in Incheon, after Vietnam withdrew its hosting rights earlier in the year because of financial pressures.
While it had always been planned for some sports to be held in Palembang, the city was confirmed as an official co-host of the Games in September, with around 11 events expected to be held on the capital of the South Sumatra island.
Purnama believes Palembang would benefit more from hosting the Games than his city Jakarta and cited economic reasons for his view that the full sport programme should be held away from the capital.
It is a somewhat unusual move that has seen a major politician from the city publicly declare that he would prefer that the Games were hosted elsewhere.
“In all over the world, if there will be great event, it usually finds region which has not been developed yet thus it increases the economic growth,” he told reporters at City Hall in Jakarta.
“So actually we want to encourage all in Palembang, thus it will be complete.
“But the Olympic Council of Asia side assessed Infrastructures in Palembang are not ready yet, so it still includes Jakarta as the implementor city.
“They want Jakarta, I want it all to be in Palembang, since Jakarta is already huge.”
Concerns have previously been raised about the practical difficulties of holding a Games on two different islands although it has been claimed there would be “convenient transportation links” between the two cities.
The agreement to make it an officially co-hosted Games had been made on the condition that both the Opening and Closing Ceremony, and the main Athletes’ Village, would remain in Jakarta, which is nearly 600km away on Java.
However, Purnama has now argued the land which is currently set to be used to create the Village could be used better by funding a Light Rail Transit in the city.
Debate regarding the future of the land has been rife, with a plan to convert it into apartments for residents in the area having been rejected, while arguments over using it for the rail link or transforming it into a commercial area are ongoing.
Indonesia is currently set to host the Games from August 18 to September 2, with the event initially due to be held in 2019 to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup.
However, it was shifted back to 2018 due to the following year’s Indonesian Presidential Elections.
- By Michael Pavitt, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz