Indonesia’s hopes to host the 2019 Asian Games faltered on Thursday, following a vote by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) general assembly in favor of Hanoi over Surabaya, East Java.
The Vietnamese capital won 29 votes out of 43, while the remaining 14 countries voted for Surabaya.
United Arab Emirates’ Dubai had failed to qualify for the bidding due to lack of administrative affairs.
“We obviously are sad and disappointed. But we have to accept this result,” said the Indonesian Olympic Committee chairwoman Rita Subowo from Macau where the assembly took place.
Indonesia — which had only hosted the Asian Games once in 1962 — was named as the host for the Asian Youth Games in 2021.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah said Hanoi, which hosted the 2003 Southeast Asian Games and the 2009 Asian Indoor Games, was convincingly ready to host the 2019 Games, with the government’s support already secured.
“The country’s leaders and its sports community have shown their high commitment as a partner. So, we’re ready to cooperate with Vietnam to be successful [in the event],” he said as quoted by Antara.
He said Indonesian delegate members, including Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, Rita Subowo and East Java Governor Soekarwo, looked speechless when Hanoi was named the host.
Rita, who charmed the audience during the 35 minutes of her calm and convincing speech before the vote, could not hold her tears.
Sailing athlete Dyan Puspito Rini from East Java, Olympic badminton champions Alan Budikusuma and Susi Susanti also did their part in hopes of delivering what had been expected by all Indonesians, for the OCA to choose Surabaya as the 2019 Asian Games host.
“This defeat has to be our motivator to be more prepared in the future,” said Rita.
She alleged that China was also behind Vietnam’s success in the bidding due to China’s huge interests in the country.