The Jakarta Post
While Indonesia is racing against time with a limited budget to complete the construction of venues for the 2018 Asian Games, several sports bodies have complained about the lack of funding for their athletes’ training program.
Sadly, this is not the first time these agencies have had to dig deep into their pockets to cover the training programs, as it seems to happen every time Indonesia is set to compete in a multisport event, ranging from the Southeast Asian Games to the Olympic Games. Some things just don’t change.
The Youth and Sports Ministry said it would soon disburse Rp 514 billion (US$40.35 million) or 70 percent of the budget for 2018 Asian Games training programs. Meanwhile, the country’s Asian Para Games teams will receive Rp 135 billion for training. The budget is lower than promised, participating sports associations claim.
With an ambitious target of winning 20 gold medals to finish in the top 10, the deficit has raised doubts over the possibility of our athletes accomplishing what seems to be an impossible mission.
The only time Indonesia earned a double-digit gold tally in the Asian Games was in 1962 in Jakarta. Back then, host Indonesia finished second with 21 gold medals. Since then, Indonesia has managed to bring home less than 10 gold medals. Even in the past two editions in 2010 and 2014, Indonesia won only four gold medals each time.
With around 200 days left until the start of the 2018 Asian Games, Indonesia should have cleared up financial matters related to the training of its athletes. Now that the financial headache has struck, the impact will be on the athletes, who will likely fall behind their rivals.
The private sector is the most possible alternative financial resource as state-owned enterprises have been pouring a lot of money into infrastructure projects for the Games. We cannot just cut down on the number of participating athletes, especially in sports where we stand a great chance of winning medals, like weightlifting.
The Indonesian Weightlifting Association previously announced that it would shrink its team from 20 athletes to 11 due to budget constraints. Weightlifting has regularly contributed medals to the national team, albeit never a gold medal. This time around, the association is eyeing one gold medal in the men’s 62-kilogram category.
Indonesia will compete in 40 out of 44 medal sports performed in the Games on Aug. 18 to Sept. 2. The challenge to fulfill the dream of joining the top 10 winning countries is clearly daunting, even without the budget deficit. Asia’s sport powerhouses, like China, Japan and South Korea, will likely dominate the medals tally, with India, Kazakhstan and Thailand set to stand between Indonesia and the coveted gold medals.
While beating the Asian giants is second to impossible, Indonesia can still enter the Asian Games history book if it can do its best as host. To become a good host, we cannot leave any sports venues empty. Crowding the stadiums will enliven the Games and give a morale boost to our athletes, so they may perform a miracle.