Asian Games 2018: China official says low-income Indonesians will benefit from Games legacy
Wei Jizhong says the Indonesian government has worked hard down the final stretch in its efforts to ensure a successful and safe Games
Veteran China sports official Wei Jizhong has made an impassioned defence of Indonesia’s Asian Games efforts, saying the 2018 event will leave a legacy unlike any before it – with low-income Indonesians to benefit.
Wei, who played a key role in negotiations that allowed Hong Kong to retain its sporting autonomy after the 1997 handover to China, said the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang were all about the people.
“I’ve been involved in the organisation of eight Asian Games,” said Wei, who attended the opening ceremony for the Asian Games Main Media Centre in Jakarta on Thursday as honorary life vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia. “And no Games is identical, all of them present their own difficulties and problems.
“With Indonesia they started very slow, we must admit, but in the final stage, in the final dash, it was good. And when it comes to legacy, I can say the legacy will be positive, to the people.”
He said the apartment buildings at the athletes’ villages in Jakarta and Palembang would be used as housing for low-income Indonesians after the Games.
“We had a discussion on how we can use these apartments after everything is finished. And we decided to make them available for low-income Indonesians,” said Wei, the former secretary general of the Chinese Olympic Committee and ex-chief of volleyball’s world governing body.
“If you go into the apartments, you will find they are quite small. They will benefit low-income households after the Games. Near the Jakarta village there is a hospital, in the Palembang village, there is a clinic nearby.
“All the necessary facilities are available nearby in both villages for the future inhabitants to take advantage of.”
Although writers, photographers and broadcasters have been using the media centre and the International Broadcast Centre since the start of the week, the facilities were officially opened on Thursday.
Organisers expect more than 8,000 journalists to converge on Jakarta and Palembang over the next two and a half weeks.
When asked what message he would like the media to send to the world about Indonesia, Wei said: “I can say the Indonesian government and the local governments, the Jakarta and Palembang government, have been working very hard to make these Games a success.
“The Asian Games is an opportunity for the hosts. Hosting the Asian Games doesn’t automatically ensure the country will benefit. It is only through the will of the government.
“Even though we have some minor problems, such as the traffic, we are working hard to make sure any problem we face is no more a problem.”
This is the second time Indonesia is hosting the Asian Games, the first being in 1962. The 2018 Games originally went to Hanoi after the Vietnamese city defeated Indonesia’s Surabaya for the hosting rights.
However, Hanoi pulled out in March 2014 saying they did not have the budget to accommodate more than 10,000 athletes.
Indonesia stepped in and picked Jakarta and Palembang, in Sumatra, as the host cities. The country is reported to have spent more than US$3.2 billion to organise the Games.
The government has also mobilised more than 100,000 security personnel to prevent terrorist attacks, with another 100,000 on standby.