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Jakarta Post

Hosting Olympics: Yay or nay

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 23, 2019   /   08:50 am
Hosting Olympics: Yay or nay Hosting an Olympics also means spending big. (Shutterstock/lazyllama)

Following its success in hosting the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, last year, the country is raising its bar higher. In a letter dated Feb. 11, which Indonesian Ambassador to Switzerland Muliaman D. Hadad conveyed to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Thomas Bach, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed Indonesia’s bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.

The country has three years to complete all the necessary documents before the deadline but the efforts should start now. Indonesia, for example, has to name the host cities, which will very likely include Jakarta and Palembang, on account of the supporting facilities and infrastructure already in place.

Opposition will come from South Korea and Australia, both of which are experienced in hosting the Olympics, as well as India, which has proposed New Delhi and Mumbai. South Korea is still playing its Korean reconciliatory tune to lure the IOC with a plan to jointly host the Olympics with the North.

Indonesia showed its capability in accommodating 17,000 athletes and officials during the Asian Games, despite imperfections here and there. With about the same number of people participating in the world’s largest multisport event, technically Indonesia will face no difficulties in organizing the Olympics for the first time.

However, hosting an Olympics requires more efforts. Among other chief considerations Indonesia has to take into account are budget and the ability of its athletes to perform in the top-level competition. Indeed, the Olympics are a class above the Asian Games.

True, host Indonesia finished fourth in the Asian Games’ medal race last year, but the Olympics are a completely different story. Sporting powerhouses such as China, Russia and the United States will field their number one athletes in all medal events, whereas Indonesia 13 years from now looks to excel in badminton and weightlifting only.

Hosting an Olympics also means spending big. The 2008 Olympics cost Beijing US$40 billion, but also raised $146 million for China. Britain did not profit when hosting the 2012 Olympics in London, while Brazil suffered big losses for hosting the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

Indonesia has to take lessons from those countries. Most of the budget was disbursed to build new facilities and infrastructure that would morph into white elephants after the Olympics was over. Reports have it that the Olympics pool has turned orange, while Maracana Stadium has transformed into a ghost town in Rio de Janeiro.

To make its bid a success, Indonesia cannot solely rely on the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex. More indoor venues for popular sports such as basketball, volleyball and badminton will be needed. People across the 
world saw competitions take place in inadequate venues during the Asian Games in Jakarta, triggering protests and concerns.

Hosting an Olympics is every nation’s dream. The government must involve all stakeholders to make it come true. However, even if Indonesia fails to bring in the Olympics, the concerted efforts to reach the common goal should give us pride as a nation.