Asian Games 2018: Indonesian president Joko Widodo insists country will be ready for Asiad and is confident on security
In an interview, the premier says Games venues are ‘99 per cent ready’ with kick-off just four-and-a-half weeks away
Indonesian president Joko Widodo said the country is 99 per cent ready for the 2018 Asian Games on the same day that Jakarta police revealed it has made thousands of arrests and killed 11 people as part of a drive to clear up the capital ahead of the Games.
In a wide-ranging interview with New Straits Times on Tuesday, Widodo insisted both the Jakarta and Pelambang event sites were almost ready and merely required “a little bit of repair” that should take just “two or three weeks” to complete.
The comments will come as a relief for the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) with just over four weeks left before the opening ceremony in the Indonesian capital.
In December last year, there were concerns surrounding the preparations when chief organiser Erick Thohir admitted the schedule was “a bit tight” for the 30 trillion rupiah (HK$17.2 billion) Games, which take place between August 18 and September 2, to be delivered on time.
“I arrived in Palembang to check on our preparation – what has been done and what needs to be done, Widodo said. “Here, [I can say that the level of preparation] is 99 per cent. Inshallah, everything will be ready. It is the same in Jakarta. The level of preparation is 99 per cent.”
Organisers had feared a repeat of the Commonwealth Games fiasco of 2010 when New Delhi was severely criticised for its level of unpreparedness. There, problems ranged from filthy conditions at the athletes’ village to collapsing infrastructure.
Widodo also claimed there was “no problem” with security around the Games after recent terror attacks in the country.
“Police have been preparing for any eventuality. We hope everything is in the best condition and safe throughout the games. I see no problem.”
Thohir said measures to ensure safety included keeping athletes from disputing countries apart during the Games.
“We’re making sure countries who do not have good relations with each other are not staying at the same hotel,” Thohir said.
As part of the security drive, some 100,000 army and police personnel will be on duty during the multi-sport event, and facial recognition technology will be in place at venues.
Amnesty International criticised Indonesian police on Tuesday when it was revealed that a campaign in Jakarta had led to the deaths of 11 suspected petty criminals as part of a drive to clean up the capital’s streets ahead of the Games.
Jakarta police spokesman Prabowo Argo Yuwono claimed almost 2,000 people had been arrested since the operation began at the beginning of July, and condoned the heavy-handed tactics employed by the task force as the campaign continues for two more weeks.
“Police won’t hesitate to take firm measures including shooting suspects if they resist arrest,” Yuwono said.
Almost 17,000 athletes from 45 participating nations will compete at the quadrennial event, the biggest global sports gathering outside the Olympics.
The 2018 edition will see a 20 per cent increase in participation compared to the 2014 Games in Incheon.
Hong Kong will send more than 600 athletes to Indonesia, their biggest squad yet for a major games.