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Jakarta Post

Jakartans give GBK sports complex wide berth in virus crisis

  • Ramadani Saputra
    Ramadani Saputra

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 23, 2020   /   05:12 pm
Jakartans give GBK sports complex wide berth in virus crisis A staff member sprays disinfectant at the Bung Karno aquatic stadium in Central Jakarta on March 3 to to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Once a popular place for sports enthusiasts, the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, is seeing few visitors amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Many people and some sport communities have stopped visiting the GBK complex for their regular exercises after authorities advised social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 500 people across the archipelago.

Among them is a yoga community called the Yoga Dogether GBK, which suspended its regular sessions at the sports complex to prevent any contagion.

“We conducted our last session together on March 15. At the time we made the decision, authorities had not even appealed to the public to stay at home and work from home,” Yoga Dogether GBK’s social media coordinator Wina Setyawatie said.

“We actually even had a debate on whether we would retain or suspend our last practice on March 15, but we came up with a decision to continue our last session but with extra attention to personal hygiene and distance between participants,” she said.

The group, which was established six years ago, now provides virtual yoga sessions everyday via livestream on its Instagram account @yogadogether_gbk.

“It is 30 minutes to one hour [per] session. We keep practicing to maintain our health, as it is in line with the government’s advice,” Wina said. “Until there is an announcement from the government declaring that the situation has returned to normal, we will not conduct any on-site sessions.”

The Youth and Sports Ministry released a protocol last Tuesday on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the sporting world. The protocol focuses not only on athletes, but also the general public. It recommends that people who want to continue exercising in groups avoid direct physical contact.

On Friday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan declared a state of emergency in the capital, limiting public transportation and urging offices to suspend operations for 14 days as of Monday. He urged everyone – including corporations, social organizations and religious groups – to take drastic action to prevent the spread of the disease during the state of emergency, in what experts believe resembles a soft lockdown.

GBK complex management (PPK GBK) will not prohibit anyone from conducting workouts on the premises during the outbreak but has promised to step up precautionary measures, including by spraying disinfectant solution.

“We are aware that people need a place for exercising, an outdoor area where they can get sunlight during their practice. We now regularly spray disinfectant at GBK and its surroundings. We pay extra attention during weekends when crowds often flock to the area,” PPK GBK head Winarto said.

“Aside from that, we also advise the GBK visitors to maintain social distance while they are exercising at the GBK, which is regularly broadcast via loudspeakers. The chairs at cafes inside the sports complex are also arranged in a safe distance [from one another].”

PPK GBK is adding more handwashing stations in the complex.

Established in 1960, the GBK has long been a place for walking, cycling, jogging or practicing yoga, particularly during weekends and on Friday nights. After the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and South Sumatra’s Palembang, more and more people flocked to the GBK sports complex to stay fit by conducting a variety of workouts. This is in line with one of the Asiad’s campaigns to promote sports among the public.

Amid coronavirus fears, many joggers at the site now exercise in smaller groups or alone, according to 24-year-old Jakartan named Ragil Irmalia, who decided to hit the GBK last week, partly out of boredom.

“Having stayed at home during this outbreak, I feel like my body is aching. I have tried various workouts in my bedroom, but the bedroom is too small. I prefer jogging to other exercises,” said Ragil, who believed that keeping her body fit was essential during the outbreak.

She would usually go jogging twice a week at GBK but now she exercises extra caution and is considering to reduce her frequency and duration.

“I was quite afraid actually, but I prefer jogging in an open space because I will be able to maintain a distance from people and avoid crowds better than if I go to a gym. I like running by myself and I am not part of any community of joggers. So I think running outdoors is much safer for me,” she said.

“I read information that we are allowed to run as long as we remain alert. Before and after running, I immediately clean myself.”