Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), has praised Jakarta’s preparations for the 2018 Asian Games and paid particular tribute to the support of Indonesia’s leader Joko Widodo.
Speaking at a gala dinner at the Mulia Hotel in the capital city, Sheikh Ahmad said he believed Jakarta will be a “good host” for the continental showpiece event, despite the Games being scheduled a year early to avoid a clash with the Indonesian Presidential Election taking place in 2019.
“We are honoured to be invited by the President and all the officials of the country,” he added.
“We are satisfied for one reason: his excellency the President, since he was a Governor of the city [Jakarta], has been showing his support.
“We discussed about the preparation, including the projects the Government is working on, such as the underground [rail line], the airport.
“We are very satisfied with [Widodo’s] leadership.
“The country’s sports society also has long experience in managing such big events.
“I believe we are comfortable with Indonesia hosting the 18th Asian Games.”
Sheikh Ahmad claimed that the OCA is working closely with Jakarta 2018 to prepare for the event in less than four years’ time after the city was awarded the Games following the withdrawal of original host Hanoi, Vietnam over economic concerns.
“We need a serious partnership,” he added.
“We need to work together – the President, the Governors and the people – in supporting the Games.
“We put them all together in one basket and work together as a team for the benefit of the Games, Indonesia, the youth and the athletes.
“Now we are here to give our sympathy and support.
“We want our dream to come true.”
Indonesia’s Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said the Government has allocated a budget of IDR3 trillion (£157 million/$236 million/€200 million) to prepare for the Games, with regional administrations also expected to contribute.
Jakarta 2018 hopes to keep costs down by using existing sports facilities and infrastructure in Jakarta and Palembang, including those venues built for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
Jakarta last hosted the Asian Games in 1962 and Sheikh Ahmad highlighted the nation’s proven track record in hosting major sports events.
“I went to Bali in 2006 after the bombing [in 2005],” he said.
“Then we decided to organise the first Asian Beach Games in Bali [in 2008].
“Now, we’re on the fifth edition of the Beach Games, but we will always remember the Beach Games as the Bali Games.
“Similar events were later organised in other regions, like South America and Africa.
“That shows that the [Beach] Games created by the OCA have had a huge impact.”
During the visit, Indonesian Olympic Committee President Rita Subowo also thanked the OCA for their visit and support.
“The visit of our friends from the OCA and international sports federations shows their solidarity for Indonesia; they are ready to help and support Indonesia as the host of the Asian Games,” she said.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.