Camelia Pasandaran, Ami Afriatni & Istman MP
Indonesia. After seven months of wrangling, the government and the country’s national sports commission have finally decided to host the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in just two provinceial capitals instead of the previous four.
South Sumatra’s capital, Palembang, will be the main host city, while a decision is still pending on the second host. Still in the running are Jakarta, Bandung and Semarang.
“I have decided that we should choose the province that is not only ready but has the spirit to be host,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Tuesday. “I believe that South Sumatra’s governor has the right spirit and will be a good host. That is [South Sumatra’s] advantage, and let us help and support it to carry out the SEA Games.”
Indonesia has experience running the Games, having played host three times since 1979.
It was appointed by the SEA Games Council last year to take over as host of the 26th Games from Singapore, which pulled out after it said it would not be ready.
At the time, it was decided to hold the biennial event across four cities, and the president issued a decree to that effect in March.
But in April, the House of Representatives said that would be impractical in terms of funding, logistics and coordination.
During the SEA Games Council meeting in Jakarta in May, participating countries also asked for a rethink on the plan.
After meeting with Yudhoyono on Tuesday, Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng said the government, Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI) and House had agreed that for the sake of budget efficiency and practical reasons, the Games would be held in just two cities.
“Four cities is too much for us, especially concerning our guests,” Andi said. “I think fewer host regions will be better.”
South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin said the province was currently busy refurbishing and building sports facilities to meet Games’ standards.
Most of the events will be held at the Jakabaring Sports Complex in Palembang. The opening and closing ceremonies — on Nov. 11 and Nov. 20, respectively — will be held at the complex’s crown jewel, Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium.
The 65-hectare complex has been undergoing a Rp 1.6 trillion ($177.6 million) renovation, including the construction of 11 new venues and an athletes’ village.
Alex said Rp 200 billion of the total budget came from the central government, and Rp 60 billion from the province. A further Rp 1.4 trillion would be raised from third parties through grants, investments and build-operate-transfer contracts, he said.
Musni Wijaya, head of the province’s Youth and Sports Office, said several companies had pledged to fund venues, including state coal miner PT Bukit Asam (tennis courts), state energy firm PT Pertamina (athletics stadium) and ConocoPhillips (gymnastics center).