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Eternal flame torch begins
journey from Mrapen

The Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) torch relay set out on Sunday.

In spite of certain preparations that remain incomplete less than 20 days before the Nov. 11, 2011 commencement, the Indonesian SEA Games Organizing Committee expressed optimism that everything would run as planned.

The Games’ torch was lit by the “eternal flame” source at Mrapen, Manggarmas Village, Godong, Grobogan in Central Java on Sunday. The Mrapen flame is fueled by natural gas discovered centuries ago and has been the source of fire for the torches of the 1963 Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), the 1981 National Games (PON), as well as more recent sporting events such as the 2008 Asian Beach Games (ABG) in Bali and the 2010 ABG in Muscat, Oman.

Mrapen caretaker Muryo Prasetyo lit the torch and handed it to Central Java Governor Bibit Waluyo, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Andi Mallarangeng and Indonesian SEA Games Organizing Committee (INASOC) chairwoman Rita Subowo.

“Hopefully this flame will light up the spirit of athleticism and togetherness in the Southeast Asian region and motivate our national athletes to compete,” Andi said, as quoted by Kompas.com on Sunday.

The torch was then handed to Ruwiyati, the former athlete and holder of the 1995 SEA Games marathon record in Chiang Mai and 2009 SEA Games silver medallist boxer Ahmad Amri, who brought it in after one-kilometer run. Other athletes who also torch bearers are Fitroh Ramdhani and Annisa Pangestina from pencak silat, Ayu Fajar Rianti of volleyball, and Abdul Kohar of sepak takraw.

As many as 20 national athletes and 20 soldiers carried the torch for the first kilometer before reaching the Borobudur Temple in Magelang.

The torch was rested in Yogyakarta on Sunday before traveling along route to Semarang, Komodo Island, Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, Jayapura in Papua, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Balikpapan, Samarinda in East Kalimantan and the Games’ cohost Jakarta, from where it will be flown to Palembang, South Sumatra on Nov. 6. The flame will tour 15 cities in South Sumatra before the Games’ Nov. 11 opening ceremony in Palembang.

Andi assured that the Palembang organizers had finished their work for the venues. “The SEA Games will definitely be held on time,” he said as on going venue works are still being rushed for the shooting, aquatics, baseball and indoor volleyball venues in Palembang.

According to recent media reports, the Athlete’s Village dormitory at the Jakabaring Sports Complex is presently busy with the instalation of household wares, including furniture and electronic devices. The furnishing works for the 369-room dorm, with a capacity for 2,300 athletes, are expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The dorm’s Rp 191 billion construction project had been entangled in various corruption allegations that involved the Sports Ministry secretary Wafid Muharram and former Democratic Party treasurer, Muhammad Nazaruddin.

The graft cases are being investigated by the Corruption Erradication Commission (KPK), which plans to file its case with the anti-corruption court (Tipikor), also in November.

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