The Jakarta Post
Wearing sport school uniforms, hundreds of students from several high schools across Jakarta stood in front of the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Main Stadium in Senayan, Jakarta, on Friday afternoon, ready to watch various sport events held in the complex.
Taking pictures with 70 of her school friends on a sidewalk, Dea Anisa Putri, a tourism student of SMK 57 state vocational school, looked excited to watch the games.
Her school had sent several groups to the sports complex since Monday.
“I have heard stories from my friends that have come here since Monday, and they said I’d learn and be inspired by a lot of things here, especially that I’ll have more respect for people with disability,” Dea told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Five meters away from Dea was Putri Maria Mayoreta, 16, a second grader from SMA Negeri 42 Jakarta state high school. She waited for her teacher with her schoolmates at the meeting point in the complex.
“I heard today we will go to the athletics and aquatics events. I’ve only watched the events on TV, so I’m really excited that I can watch it live now,” she said.
The organizers enjoyed a surge in the number of spectators since Thursday as most venues were almost full.
The 3rd Asian Para Games is mainly held in the GBK sports complex, backed up by a list of venues in Greater Jakarta such as Tanjung Priok sports hall, Jaya Ancol Bowling Center, Ecovention Ancol and Kelapa Gading club in North Jakarta; Cempaka Putih sports hall and JIExpo Grand Ballroom in Central Jakarta; Jakarta International Velodrome and POPKI Cibubur sports hall in East Jakarta; Balai Kartini and Balai Sudirman halls in South Jakarta; and the Sentul International Circuit in Bogor, West Java.
Swimming is among the popular sports with the venue packed for Thursday’s competitions.
Indonesian Asian Para Games Organizing Committee (INAPGOC) official Mirsya Budiarsi said Friday she was amazed by the enthusiasm shown by the spectators in the venues.
“We sold almost 20,000 tickets over the past two days. It increased significantly, the numbers doubled from previous days,” said Mirsya, a marketing director for the Games.
She said good promotion by public figures on their social media accounts also helped the buzz surrounding the quadrennial event, which led to people flocking to the venues.
Mirsya revealed the organizers had allocated 16,000 free tickets per day since the opening day to make the venues more atmospheric. From the giveaway tickets, some 8,000 tickets were allocated for students, 5,000 were distributed by the Social Affairs Ministry and 3,000 were distributed by other ministries and agencies, she added.
“We also distributed 6,000 more free tickets per day for schools and communities [over the past two days],” she said, adding that the organizers wanted to spread the positive message of the Para Games to students and communities to raise awareness about people with disability and equality in society.
“We want more and more people to get the message by watching [the athletes] live.”
She admitted some venues that hosted less familiar sports might see fewer spectators than the ones housing the swimming, badminton and basketball competitions. She, however, was confident that people will go to see the less popular sports at the venues.
“If you pay attention, the small crowd in certain venues still go all out in cheering the athletes. They don’t just sit silently and get busy with their phones. Instead, they give support wholeheartedly,” she added.