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Awaiting the athletes: The National Games’ mascot stands inside the Riau Main Stadium in Pekanbaru. The mascot is modeled on the hanging parrot (Loriculus galgulus), known locally as the serindit bird. JP/Mustaqim Adamrah
The 18th National Games are only some 30 days away but the organizing committee looks to be struggling to ready the venues. Progress has been hampered by the uncovering of alleged instances of bribery. The Jakarta Post’s Mustaqim Adamrah and Rizal Harahap report on the issue.
The scorching sun and stifling humidity did not appear to be holding back the men working on the construction site.
The noise from a cacophony of power generators and hammers echoed around as the Post entered the 3,500-square-meter building, the dust filling the air.
The building, on a 7,000-square-meter plot, was being prepared for kick-volleyball or, sepak takraw, matches.
In a stark contrast, a security attendant advised against entering the site of the proposed shooting range located on Jl. Yos Sudarso.
“There’s no point of looking inside. It’s empty. It’s not completed yet,” he told the Post.
A worker said only a minimal number of them stayed working every day on the site.
“Two sub-contractors are installing glass, while others are fixing power installations,” he said.
The building should have been ready by now with trials being prepared to test the venue.
Construction work had been halted in April before resuming only recently. Scam allegations have hindered the progress of the construction work.
The site used to be busier before a bribery case emerged implicating 13 suspects, including the Sports Agency head Lukman Abbas and 11 provincial councilors. The suspects face accusations of having embezzled construction funds.
However, apart from the financial irregularities that might prompt moving the shooting competition to another province, Sports Agency official Emrizal Pakis, pledged to continue the preparation work on the venues, including the shooting venue, to deliver the Games on time.
The Games will run from Sept. 11 to 20 with sporting delegations from all 33 provinces in the country expected to take part.
“The progress of the construction is about 60 percent complete,” Dedi Mugni, a supervisory consultant for the project, told a visiting group of reporters.
The organizing committee was taking the media on a tour of a number of venues, some of which were already completed.
“The only jobs left are to lay the synthetic carpet for the fields and on the roof,” Dedi said of the sepak takraw venue, adding that the synthetic flooring was imported from Germany.
Located inside an MTQ compound on Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, the sepak takraw venue is designed to accommodate 740 spectators, with folding seats in the southern and northern sections and changing and administration rooms for the athletes and officials.
The building has been designated as the next office of the Indonesian Sepak Takraw Association (PSTI) after the Games, given that Riau is known as one of the country’s strongholds in the sport.
Among the completed venues already being used for competitions are the basketball court, gymnastics hall, athletics field, the Kaharuddin Nasution Stadium — all located in the Rumbai sports center — outdoor tennis courts in state-owned plantation firm PTPN V’s area in East Sidomulyo subdistrict, Marpoyan Damai district, and the Riau Main Stadium in Panam.
Both Kaharuddin Nasution Stadium and Riau Main Stadium, with seating capacities of 20,000 and 43,000 respectively, hosted the qualifying matches of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-22 soccer championship from July 5 to 15.
A tennis tournament in July used seven hardcourts with the main court reserved for the later final round as the roof over the tribune section and the hardcourt floor had not been installed. The 1-hectare tennis venue can accommodate 3,000 spectators.
According to the committee, the venues for wrestling, archery, indoor volleyball — all three located inside the compound of Riau Islamic University — athletics, wushu, gymnastics, basketball, swimming — in the Rumbai sports center — and fencing inside the Lancang Kuning University — will be ready soon.
Despite the organizers’ confidence, some critics have expressed doubts whether some venues, especially those for archery and sepak takraw venues, will be ready by the deadline.
However Riau Youth and Sports Agency spokesman Zulkifli Rachman dismissed such doubts. “We’re sure they will be completed in time,” he said.
Concerns over environmental issues have also emerged after approximately 2.25-hectares of university forest were felled to make way for the archery venue.