The Jakarta Post
Amid stunning fireworks and music performances from Asian stars and the country’s top talent, Indonesia bade farewell to the 2018 Asian Para Games on Saturday with its chin up, as the host collected more medals than targeted.
Indonesia ranked fifth with 37 golds and a total of 135 medals.
Some of the spectators packing Madya Stadium could not help but shed a tear as video clips of athletes and volunteers giving their best to serve their countries over the past seven days were displayed on the big screen on the stage.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 5,000, but thousands of volunteers and athletes were enjoying the ceremony from the field in the center of the stadium.
“Thank you to the athletes, who have shown they are stronger, better and able to do more things than the world thought they could. Their hard work and amazing achievements have broken down obstacles and changed people’s perceptions of people with disabilities. […] You are all heroes, not only in the competition, but also for humanity,” Vice President Jusuf Kalla said in his closing remarks.
South Korean girl group AOA performed at the ceremony, as well as Indonesian singers Sherly Sheinafia, Judika, Rio Febrian, Cokelat and the Netral band.
During the ceremony, Indonesia also officially handed the Para Games baton to Hangzhou, China, which will be the host of the Para Games in 2022.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan returned the Para Games flag to Asian Paralympic Committee president Majid Rashed.
As a symbolic gesture, the president of the Indonesian National Paralympic Committee, Senny Marbun, presented a box with the word ABILITY on it to China Disabilities Committee president Zhang Haidi to continue spreading the message of equality for people with disabilities at the 2022 Para Games.
Indonesian Asian Para Games Organizing Committee (INAPGOC) chief Raja “Okto” Sapta Oktohari playfully asked Majid at the end of his closing speech: “Majid, do you think this was the best Asian Para Games ever?”
Majid smiled at Okto’s question and nodded. “My brother, you see the answer on everyone’s face. Yes, this was the best Asian Para Games,” he said, at which thousands of Indonesians cheered in the background.
In his closing speech, Majid highlighted several aspects that made the 2018 Asian Para Games a historic event, including the record number of 43 participating countries. This was also the first time Laos took part, and the first time for a unified team to represent the Korean Peninsula.
“Athletes, your performances have been incredible, and once again you have shown the world that there are no limits to what can be achieved. With the right attitude, everything is possible,” he said.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo fulfilled his promise to deliver cash rewards to members of Team Indonesia participating in the Games before the event was officially closed. Each gold medalist receives a bonus of Rp 1.5 billion (US$99,000), while a silver medalist gets Rp 500 million and a bronze medalist takes home Rp 250 million.
“[Thank God], we’ve surpassed the target [to win 16 gold medals],” he said at Bogor Palace as he symbolically handed over the rewards.