The Jakarta Post
With the Asian Games over and the Asian Para Games soon to follow suit, what else can proud Jakartans reminisce about on the historic sporting events, except on the venues where our athletes fought for national pride? Finishing fourth with a medal haul of 31 golds, 24 silvers and 43 bronzes in the Games we hosted for only the second time is a legacy that will forever be remembered. More than that, hopefully the achievement will set a new benchmark for Indonesian sports in other events that will keep the national flag flying on the global map.
The lucrative sports venues, either brand new or rebuilt, are a tangible legacy that should last long too. We have spent a lot on building and renovating the structures and will disburse more to maintain them, otherwise they will only sit idle, waiting to eventually collapse.
Rio de Janeiro, for example, teaches us a dear lesson on the uphill challenge facing the host of a major sporting event after the party is over. Only six months after hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, the iconic Maracana Stadium, which also hosted matches during the World Cup in 2014, has turned into a state of disrepair. In addition to unpaid electricity bills to the tune of US$1 million, vandals looted thousands of stadium seats, The Guardian reported.
Other facilities like the Aquatics Stadium and $21 million golf course have largely been abandoned, contradicting the Olympic organizers’ promises of their benefits for the local people.
Many other cities that hosted a sports extravaganza share a similar agony, with the desperate Atlanta authorities eventually demolishing the baseball stadium, turning it into a parking area a year after the United States staged the Olympics in 1996.
Nobody can assure such a bleak future will elude Jakarta, as well as the 2018 Asian Games cohost Palembang. Jakarta must take responsibility for maintaining, among other venues, the Rp 3.4 trillion ($230 million) athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, Rp 665 billion Jakarta International Velodrome in Pulomas and the Jakarta International Baseball Area in Rawamangun, both in East Jakarta, dubbed the best baseball venue in the country.
As a consequence, the Jakarta administration has had to allocate a routine budget for the facilities, which will add to the capital’s financial burden, especially now that the global economy is slowing. President director of the Kemayoran Complex Management Center that operates the athletes village, Dwi Nugroho, said the apartments that accommodated 17,000 athletes and officials during the Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 Games could be rented out, sold, or both, as the city could not afford to cover their maintenance costs.
For better or worse, Jakarta cannot do it all alone. Concerted efforts between the central and Jakarta governments proved to make the Asian Games a success, therefore, such cooperation must continue when it comes to preserving the Games legacy.
Well-knit team work matters in particular because Indonesia is bidding to host the 2032 Olympics and undoubtedly Jakarta, along with Palembang, will be the best place for the world’s largest sporting event.