Category: Sports

Sporting chance for change

As the Asian Games winds down on Sunday, residents of Jakarta and Palembang – the two co-hosting cities – are wondering what will become of their cities after all the hype and massive revamping and construction of sports venues and infrastructure leading up to event is over.

In notoriously gridlocked Jakarta, commuters have been enjoying reduced traffic and faster travel time as the odd-even licence plate policy has been expanded to more roads for the duration of the games, which end on Sept 2. Private cars with odd-numbered plates can only use those roads on odd-numbered dates, with even-numbered plates allowed on even-numbered dates only.

The policy was expanded to ensure that it would take no more than 30 minutes for Asian Games athletes to travel from the athletes’ village to the main sports venues in the city.

Some residents are happy with the significantly reduced traffic congestions, especially those who use public transport and are often stuck in buses and taxis with fast-running meters.

“It would be good to continue the odd-even plates restrictions and make them permanent. The traffic is much smoother now and we have much less congested roads and intersections, especially when traveling with Transjakarta buses,” Bernadetta Febriana, a resident of South Jakarta said, referring to the city’s main network of public buses.

The Indonesian capital has undergone a dramatic revamp with less than the usual amount of time to prepare to stage the 18th Asian Games, the second-biggest multi sports event after the Olympics.

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Indonesian contingent at the opening of the 18th Asian Games at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) sports complex, Jakarta, Saturday, (18/8). Photo: INASGOC/Ridhwan Siregar

Hanoi was awarded the games in 2012 but withdrew in 2014 citing lack of preparation and financial capability. The Olympics Council of Asia appointed Jakarta and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province to co-host the games, although some venues are located on the outskirts of Jakarta in neighboring Banten and West Java provinces. This is the second time that Jakarta has played host to the games. The last time was in 1962.

Urban planning expert Nirwono Joga said the city needed the momentum that an event such as the Asiad can create as a spur to undertake a major revamp and speed up infrastructure development.

“Apparently it is doable, financially and time-wise but it needs a boost to speed it up such as hosting a major event like the Asian Games. We can do it in just a few years and even in months,” he said.

In preparation for the 1962 games, the Indonesian government started construction in 1960 of the Bung Karno sports complex, where the main venues are located. It also built the Selamat Datang (welcome) statue at the roundabout, in front of the Hotel Indonesia – the first international standard hotel in the capital, which was also built to accommodate the Asiad athletes, officials and guests.

For this year’s games, the number of Transjakarta buses has been increased to anticipate those traveling without private cars due to the odd-even policy. The city’s main thoroughfares now have wider sidewalks for pedestrians to encourage more people to get around by walking.

Joga said this would be the right moment to get more people walking from one point to another, reduce the use of private vehicles and increase the use of public transport.

“But we will need more expanded and walkable sidewalks for that. We can’t tell people to take public transport if there are no safe and comfortable sidewalks for people to walk on after they get off the buses,” he added.

“The city administration should continue revamping sidewalks in other parts of the city, and not just in the main thoroughfares for foreign visitors’ eyes,” he said.

Also noteworthy have been efforts to reduce the foul smell emanating from the Sentiong River – nicknamed Kali Item or Black River for its black, heavily polluted water – which is close to the athletes’ villages in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

The river was sprayed with an odour neutralizer in order to improve the atmosphere for the international athletes staying in the village.

“So apparently there is a technology to reduce the river’s pungent smell but we are only moved to use it just because we are hosting the games. Why didn’t we try to use it earlier?” Joga asked rhetorically.

“We should not stop here and instead use this event as a momentum to continue cleaning the river and make the city more livable even when the games are over,” Joga added.

Changes in the capital, in his view, could motivate other cities across the country to do the same to create a more livable environment for their residents.

What happens in the capital city reverberates all over Indonesia, he said, citing the news about the dismantling of a pedestrian bridge in downtown Jakarta and its replacement with a zebra crossing for pedestrians. President Joko Widodo tried out the crossing with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan as news camera clicked away.

“It is only a few meters long but it generated nationwide publicity, even though the original aim of dismantling the bridge was more for aesthetic purposes instead of promoting walking as a means to get from one point to another,” he said.

The governor said the bridge was dismantled because it blocked people coming from the city’s north side to view the Selamat Datang statue, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

“Let’s not stop making the city more civilised and amenable to modern living just after the games. It is time to view fixing the city’s problems with the perspective of a modern metropolis, instead of the perspective of a big village as we have been doing all this time,” Joga said,

The city has also built more sports venues to stage the games and rebuilt the outdated velodrome and equestrian park to meet modern, international standards.

Danny Buldansyah, the spokesman for the Indonesia Asian Games 2018 Organizing Committee (Inasgoc) said that despite the limited time available to prepare for an event as big and complex as the Asiad, Indonesia has managed to pull it off. The various sports competitions, which began on Aug 18, have been running smoothly so far with generally positive reviews from athletes, officials and spectators.

“We had to build more venues, such as hockey and volleyball stadiums, just three months prior to the games, because we had later confirmation of more participants in certain sports,” he said.

He acknowledged concerns about what will happen next to the venues for less popular sports such as the equestrian park and how to maintain them and keep them useful.

“They will be managed in a partnership with private entities for other commercial uses,” he said.

“We are also confident now that the equestrian park has met international standards, it could be hosting more international equestrian competitions in the future,” Buldansyah said.

According to him, Indonesia has experienced an influx of roughly 25 million people consisting of athletes, sports officials, VIPs and foreign journalists for the games in Jakarta and Palembang.

“We have more people visiting for the games compared to the number of people in the 2014 Asiad in Incheon. It is a sign of their trust in us to host the games,” he added.

JIEP Pulo Mas
Newly-renovated Jakarta International Equestrian Park in East Jakarta set to stage three competitions for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

Muslim residents living within a one-kilometer radius from the equestrian park in East Jakarta had to adjust their Eid Al Adha festivities, which fell on Aug 22. The Eid Al Adha celebration is a time when Muslims donate cattle or goats for slaughter as sacrifice and the meat is donated to the poor.

An order passed by the governor in 2017 put a restriction on the seasonal trade of cattle within the area, and 35 mosques within the restricted zone are forbidden to slaughter the sacrificial animals, in compliance with the international regulation that the area within a kilometer from the equestrian park should be an equine disease free zone.

A caretaker at the Al Hurriyah mosque in Pulo Asem neighborhood near the park said congregation members were aware of the restriction and have complied to it by donating their animals to be sacrificed elsewhere.

”For many of us here, the Asian Games is a once in a lifetime event, so we don’t mind with this restriction because we want to take part in supporting the games,” Purnomo said.

The story was first published in Bangkok Post

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CNN Indonesia sorry for blurring female swimmer’s body

CNN Indonesia news channel apologised on Monday after it blurred images of a female athlete wearing a swimsuit in its 19th National Games (PON) coverage.

The apology came after it self-censored a report about preparation of swimmer Margaretha Herawati to compete in the games, which is being held in West Java, by blurring her body, although she was wearing a one-piece swimsuit.

The screen captures of Margaretha’s blurred body on the channel’s Saturday sports program went viral on social media, causing netizens to vent their dismay to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and accused the broadcasting regulator for being too much on censorship.

“Blurred broadcast of swimming news, which was being debated, didn’t meet the journalistic standards and therefore we apologize,” Titin Rosmasari, CNN Indonesia editor-in-chief said in a statement.

“We take the public concerns and scrutiny as a valuable input to improve our work performance,” she added.

KPI commissioner and coordinator of content monitoring Hardly Stefano Pariela said the commission never told the broadcaster to blur the image of a female athlete clad in a swimsuit.

“It was the broadcaster’s own initiative to blur its broadcast content and the KPI didn’t order it to do so,” Hardly said on Monday.

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He said the commission will investigate the context the footage including where it was taken whether at a hotel or a swimming pool used for the competition and if it was during a competition coverage or an interview.

Hardly said the blurring was unethical if the footage was taken during an interview that took place in a hotel swimming pool.

“They could have asked the interviewee to wrap herself with a towel first,” he said, adding that it would be acceptable to broadcast footage of athletes in swimsuits if the broadcaster was covering a swimming competition.

Footage taking could also be arranged by focusing on the game, not the athletes’ bodies, to avoid the impression of exploiting their bodies.

Titin said the debate surrounding the blurred broadcast showed that there was a room for various interpretations of the KPI’s programming standards and broadcasting code of conduct (P3SPS), notably on the ban to exploit female bodies in a broadcast.

“The different interpretations call for KPI and all broadcasters’ concerns, including CNN Indonesia so that blurring broadcasting content would not violate viewers’ rights to have quality and decent content,” Titin said.

 

Indonesian lawmakers question visa for Israeli badminton player

Indonesian legislators have questioned a decision to grant a visa to an Israeli badminton player to compete in the World Championship this week.

Indonesia initially refused to give a visa to Misha Zilberman to play in Jakarta, but relented following intervention from the World Badminton Federation. Zilberman was eliminated in the first round.

“This is a bad precedent,” a member of the House of Representatives, Ahmad Zainuddin, was quoted as saying by Viva.co.id.

“How could it be that an Israeli managed to obtain a visa, while Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel?” he said. “This has to be explained.”

He said he suspected that the decision was made after pressure from Israel and the international pro-Israel lobby.

“If that’s true, it shows how hollow is our stated principle of supporting Palestinian independence and opposing Israel’s colonization,” Zainuddin said.

BWF said it had assisted Zilberman in his visa quest.

“BWF has worked extremely hard with both local and Israeli stakeholders,” it said in a statement on its webiste.

“However, BWF chose not to engage in a public discussion to avoid any distraction while focusing on a solution, as such public attention could have endangered the ultimate objective – to get Misha Zilberman to play in the World Championships,” it said.

Another lawmaker from the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party, Mahfudz Siddiq, said he was informed that the Foreign Ministry was not consulted in the decision.

“It shows that there’s no coordination with the immigration department,” he was quoted as saying by inilah.com.

Indonesia has at least twice refused to play Israel in sports tournaments, and excluded the Jewish state from participating in the 1962 Asian Games hosted by Jakarta.

Court overturns Sports Ministry’s suspension of PSSI

A Jakarta court has overturned the Sports Ministry’s decision to suspend the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), in a ruling welcomed by fans who have been unable to enjoy local action for months.

The State Administrative Court’s decision will pave the way for the resumption of league competitions, which were cancelled early in the season after Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi suspended the PSSI in April.

The Court on Tuesday ruled in favour of the PSSI in its lawsuit against the Sports Ministry’s decision. The ministry said it would appeal the ruling.

The PSSI said it plans to restart league and first division competitions in October.

“We will ask the police to issue a permit for the competition,” PSSI chief La Nyalla Mattalitti said.

“PSSI has informed FIFA about the court’s decision. We will ask the sports minister not to interfere because FIFA’s previous letter was clear,” he said. “Let’s sit together but no intervention!”

Football Ahmad Sutisna said he was happy with the ruling.

“I hope the PSSI will be able to improve the game in the future,” he said.

The ministry’s move to freeze PSSI  had prompted world football governing body FIFA to suspend Indonesia on the grounds of government interference.

The ministry suspended PSSI for ignoring orders to exclude two clubs from the Indonesian Super League over ownership concerns. The government then appointed its own transitional committee to run the national programme.

The ministry’s order to exclude the two clubs came after they failed a government audit into several aspects of their management, and were embroiled in ownership disputes.

The FIFA suspension prevented Indonesia from taking part in qualifying stages for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup.

Clubs also said they have been unable to pay players after sponsors withdrew support as a result of the halt to competitions.

Indonesian football was until recently bogged down by infighting over control of the sport in the football-mad country.

The national team was unable to field many of the country’s strongest players, who were signed to a rival league not recognized by PSSI.

The dispute with the non-PSSI league was resolved in 2013.

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