Jakarta: Indonesia is on track to host next year’s Asian Games, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Monday, easing fears the country may not be ready for the tournament.
With under a year until the opening ceremony, Indonesia is racing to renovate stadiums and secure major sponsors for the event, which is larger than the Olympics both in terms of the number of sports and competitors.
The cities of Jakarta and Palembang on the island of Sumatra plan to welcome around 10,000 athletes from 45 countries, competing in 40 sports from August 18 to September 2, 2018.
OCA President Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said he was pleased with Indonesia’s progress.
“We are moving in the right direction for the Games,” he said after meeting Indonesian president Joko Widodo.
“I feel more comfortable that the Games is going in the right way.”
Indonesia was awarded the Games in 2014 after the original host Vietnam withdrew due to financial problems, but the late decision meant the Indonesians had four years to prepare instead of the usual six.
When the OCA visited in March it said the country faced huge challenges, raising concerns about a lack of coordination.
Observers also questioned the suitability of the athletes’ village and transport to and from venues in a city notorious for traffic congestion.
Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said on Sunday there was no issue with preparation.
“The sponsorship from within and outside of Indonesia has been progressing well and therefore we hope the event will go well,” he said at a press conference.
Indonesia last hosted the Asian Games in 1962 in Jakarta and for many Indonesians the Games will be a chance to showcase the country’s sporting and economic success.