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Preparations for the SEA
Games still mired in chaos

Ready for inaction: A pedestrian walks past a SEA Games banner on the National Sports Committee (KONI) building in Jakarta on Tuesday. Preparations for the regional event that will take place in November in Jakarta and Palembang have been mired by corruption allegations and construction delays. JP/R. Berto Wedhatama
Ready for inaction: A pedestrian walks past a SEA Games banner on the National Sports Committee (KONI) building in Jakarta on Tuesday. Preparations for the regional event that will take place in November in Jakarta and Palembang have been mired by corruption allegations and construction delays. JP/R. Berto Wedhatama

With only 170 days to go before the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Jakarta and Palembang, there are few signs that preparations for the biennial event are underway in the capital.

Amid the possibility that Indonesia faces being banned from hosting and competing in the soccer event due to a crisis in its soccer association, the country also faces more serious problems.

Organizers of the Jakarta side of the event are still waiting for the central government to disburse Rp 7 billion (US$ 815,000) for promotional costs.

“We have a bank account set up and are waiting for the money to be transferred. We signed an agreement on the disbursement in April,” Jakarta Youth and Sports Agency head Ratiyono, the secretary of the Games organizing committee for Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said his committee could only begin public tenders for promotional activities after receiving the money. “The projects must adhere to the law,” he said, referring to recent graft allegations against Sports and Youth Ministry secretary Wafid Muharam in a Rp 191 billion construction project for a Games dormitory in Palembang.

Jakartans will have to wait even longer to witness the hype of the Games. Earlier this week, Antara news agency reported on the urgency of popularizing the Games’ mascots, Modo and Modi, the Komodo dragons, which have not appeared in the capital. Sports activist IGK Manila, who led the national soccer team to Games gold in 1991, recalled the days before Jakarta hosted the 1997 Games. “We were ready with our mascot, logo and even theme song when 1995 host Thailand handed us the host’s flag.”

Work on the venues is also slow. The government allocated Rp 70 billion to renovate venues in Jakarta, but Ratiyono said the only construction on track was the pencak silat arena in TMII, East Jakarta (62 percent completed), and the bowling center in Ancol, North Jakarta (49 percent completed).

Other venues are still less than half done, including the paragliding, judo, cycling, basketball, BMX, equestrian, sailing and archery venues.

Traffic is also a concern for organizers, with the Jakarta Transportation Agency announcing its own plans.

“Just like during the ASEAN Summit, we’ll block trucks from the inner city toll road between 5 a.m and 10 p.m.,” agency head Udar Pristono said.

Pristono said shuttle buses would operate between the two main Games venues in Ancol and Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Central Jakarta. The buses and vehicles bearing Games stickers will be the only vehicles allowed inside the two areas, he said, adding that spectators would have to park their vehicles and use the buses.

The Jakarta organizers have shortlisted 18 four-star hotels to accommodate athletes and officials but are waiting for approval from the Indonesian SEA Games Organizing Committee (INASOC).

INASOC deputy Djoko Pramono, who headed the country’s 1997 contingent, expressed regrets at the country’s poor preparations, although Jakarta hosted the Games in 1979, 1987 and 1997.

“The situation in 1997 was different. Then, the preparations were smooth. I don’t wish to comment on our readiness now, it would just ruffle feathers,” he said.

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