• Saturday, Apr 20, 2019
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Asian Games brings back smiles in Indonesia

  • Published at 10:56 pm August 17th, 2018
The Asian Games will get underway Saturday in Indonesia Dhaka Tribune/Shishir Hoque

Indonesia are hosting the event for the first time after 56 years, at a time when the country’s tourism and economy suffered a setback after the recent Lombok earthquake tragedy

Indonesia is all set to officially inaugurate Asia’s biggest multi-sports event, the Asian Games 2018. They are hosting the event for the first time after 56 years, at a time when the country’s tourism and economy suffered a setback after the recent Lombok earthquake tragedy.

The opening and closing ceremony of the Games’ 18th edition will be held at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, built during the 1962 Asiad when Jakarta was the lone host. The Games will be held in two different cities for the first time, which includes Palembang of South Sumatra, situated around 6,000kms from the capital.

The organisers tried their best to not reveal too much about the colossal opening ceremony that will see around 11,600 athletes marching around the venue representing 45 Asian countries. 

A press conference was called Friday afternoon but later cancelled without prior notice.  

A walk through the recently renovated main venue, commonly known as GBK, provided a glimpse of the country’s last-ditch preparation to host the opening ceremony. 

GBK, that will only host the athletics event, is surrounded by 11 other sports venues and parks. So getting from one point to the other can take a while.

The background of the ceremony stage made by the local artists was almost done by the afternoon, showcasing a towering mountain accompanied by beautiful Indonesian plants and flowers.

The surface of the stage, that is 120m in length and 30m in width, was not ready but it was learned from the volunteers and local journalists that it would reflect the geography of Indonesia through islands, rivers, waterfalls and hills.

Friday was the Independence Day of Indonesia as it achieved its sovereignty on this day from the Dutch in 1945. The streets were almost empty but there were volunteers, workers, security persons, journalists all across the main venue.

The sports complex of GBK will host a total of 24 sports events while the suburbs of Jakarta will host seven other sports. Palembang will host the remaining 10 disciplines including shooting, rowing and beach volleyball. 

There is an Athletes Village in Jakarta where the majority of the Bangladeshi athletes are staying at tower No 7.

No doubt the Lombok earthquake is in the minds of every Indonesian but they did not seem all that comfortable talking about the tragedy.

The opening ceremony would remember those victims of the earthquake that has taken away the lives of more than 450 people leaving thousands of victims, informed the Games’ organising committee’s media and PR coordinator Muhamad Buldansyah, but he refrained from revealing any more details.

During a conversation with a local business journalist from Bisnis Indonesia named Rayza, it was learned that it will cost Indonesia around 3.5 trillion US dollars to host the mega event that included building seven new venues, two modern stadiums and the renovation of other venues. He also went on to say one of the major sources of the country’s economy depends on tourism, which mainly involves Bali and Lombok. 

The earthquake is not only taking lives every day but it is also affecting the country’s economy massively. Buldansyah informed that every Indonesian is making donation for the victims. But the Games is bringing smiles back to the people of Indonesia, especially through football. 

Their Olympic team outplayed Laos 3-0 Friday. The Indonesian journalists at the media center couldn’t hold back their excitement every time their team scored.

Badminton and bridge are the two most popular sports in Indonesia. Badminton was first included in the Games when they first hosted it in 1962. Bridge will make the debut this time along with jet ski, jujitsu, kurash, paragliding, pencak silat, sambo, skate-boarding and sport climbing.

Meanwhile, there will be no official games of any sports disciplines on the inaugural day. It will start from Sunday as Bangladesh will make their debut in the mixed team events of shooting on the same day in Palembang.

Did You Know

* North and South Korean athletes will compete together for the first time in three sports - dragon boat racing, women's basketball and lightweight rowing. They are also expected to march jointly at the opening ceremony.

* Bridge, jet ski, jujitsu, kurash, paragliding, pencak silat, sambo, skateboarding and sport climbing are all set to make their Asian Games debut at Jakarta-Palembang 2018.

* A total of 42 sports and 484 events will be contested at the 2018 Asian Games.

* China go into the Asiad as the all-time medal count leader with 2,976 - 1,355 golds, 928 silvers and 693 bronzes.

* Indonesia president Joko Widodo inaugurated the newly renovated Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, in January, 2018. He will also inaugurate the event on the opening ceremony.

* The trio of animal mascots chosen for the Asiad are bird of paradise "Bhin Bhin", single-horned rhinoceros "Kaka" and Bawean deer "Atung".

Source: Inside the Games