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Jakarta Post

Indonesia’s soccer leagues delayed until November amid COVID-19 concerns

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, September 29, 2020   /   06:52 pm
Indonesia’s soccer leagues delayed until November amid COVID-19 concerns An aerial view of Bandung Lautan Api Stadium in Bandung, West Java. The stadium hosts soccer matches for Indonesia's top-tier Liga 1 league. (Antara/Raisan Al Farisi)

Indonesia’s top-tier and second-tier soccer leagues, Liga 1 and 2, have been put on hold for an entire month until November as the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated.

Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) chairman Mochamad Iriawan told a press conference on Tuesday that the postponement was in line with the National Police’s staunch position against any activities that could possibly jeopardize public health and safety.

On Monday, the police refused to grant the organization permission to hold the major sporting events given the country’s ongoing coronavirus emergency.

“[…] the PSSI respects and understands the National Police’s decision,” Iriawan said as quoted by kompas.com. “Safety and security considerations remain top priority.”

He asked that matches be delayed for only one month and be allowed to resume in November, considering the other pressing events over the course of next year, including the fasting month of Ramadhan – expected to fall next April – and World Cup preparations in May.

“We ask for a one-month delay so matches can resume as soon as possible. Otherwise, this year’s generation [of soccer players] will face difficulties,” he said.

Read also: Govt readies health protocols as Indonesia looks to resume sports competitions

Last week, Iriawan said Liga 1 and Liga 2 had planned to resume on Oct. 1 and 17, respectively. Matches were expected to be held in stadiums in Java to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission from travel.

The competitions have been postponed since March due to coronavirus concerns.

National Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono previously said any events that could attract large crowds and therefore heighten the risk of coronavirus transmission, such as Liga 1 and Liga 2, were strictly prohibited.

“In regards to Liga 1 and 2 that were planned to continue on Oct. 1, the National Police will not issue a crowd permit,” Argo said in a statement as quoted by tempo.co on Tuesday.

He said the decision was based on considerations of the current health crisis, particularly the ever-increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“The National Police has issued a mandate emphasizing that no crowd permits will be issued [for sporting events],” he added.

Read also: Indonesian Basketball League gets green light for October restart

Argo added that the National Police, alongside the Indonesian Military and other related stakeholders, had been focusing on supporting the government’s COVID-19 protocols, including daily inspections meant to improve compliance among the public.

It was previously reported that the government and national sports association had signed an agreement on the implementation of health protocols for sports competitions as the country prepared to resume the postponed soccer and basketball leagues.

National COVID-19 task force Doni Monardo signed memorandums of understanding with the Youth and Sports Ministry, the PSSI and the Indonesian Basketball Association (Perbasi) on Sept. 17.

He said that all competitions would be held without spectators to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Organizers should also coordinate with the local COVID-19 task force and health agencies prior to the matches.

Furthermore, the national COVID-19 task force also forbids athletes, officials and match organizers with a history of chronic illness from taking part in competitions. (rfa)