Jakarta: Indonesia have created a feud at the 18th Asian Games due to their athletes’ success in pencak silat.
The little known sport is regarded as one of the pet traditional martial art sport in Indonesia and they took full advantage of it to rake in 14 gold medals and a bronze.
The results have helped take Indonesia to fourth spot in the medal tally with 30 gold, 22 silver and 37 bronze so far.
The achievement is double their previous best, when they last hosted the regional Olympics in 1962.
Four year’s back at the Incheon Games, they only had four golds and finished 17th in the standings. At the 2010 Games in Guangzhou they were ranked 15th and 2006 Doha Games they were placed 22nd with four and two golds respectively. Understandably the results this time around have not gone down well with many teams who have slipped in the medals tally as a result and they have raised a strong protest with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
While team’s like India and Iran has been vociferously protesting with the OCA of giving hosts an unfair advantage, The UAE feels there is no need to come down hard on Indonesia.
“Pencak silat is mainly followed in these countries — Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It wasn’t there for beach Games but they pushed it for this Games. As a host country they need to win medals and be in a good position and cranking. OCA always fulfils the needs for the country who hosts the Game so that they can get medals,” said Chef de Mission of the UAE delegation Ahmed Al Tayeb.
“If we are hosting the Asian Games then probably we will also end up putting endurance horse riding because we are good at that. Put it at different distance and maybe win three medals.
“Part of the Games conversation is always which sports should go out and come. There is always an argument over which sport we should stick on. So some sports like this come in if the host nation is keen to host. Over 40 sport is too big and if you see China, Japan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Korea they are dominating the medals for big sport. Even for us we are strong in jiu-jitsu and jet ski otherwise we won’t get any medals. So these are the advantage and disadvantage for everyone.”
Only twice has Indonesia finished ahead of India on the medals table, when it hosted the Games in 1962 at Jakarta and the 1990 Games in Beijing, where India had its worst performance in the history of the Games. India is now mulling over raising an official protest while the Iranian National Olympic Committee’s Reza Salehi Amiri has written to the OCA chief Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Ahmad Al Sabah questioning the Asian body’s decision to include an event little known to the rest of Asia.
Shaikh Ahmad in his reply said: “This kind of privilege would also be given to Iran if a match (Asian Games) was held in the country.”
Indian Olympic Association treasurer and secretary of Handball Federation of India, Anandeshwar Pandey speaking on the issue said: “It is a serious issue and needs to be thoroughly discussed at the top level. The OCA should immediately stop this practice of allocating sports on the whims and fancies of the host country.
“It is my opinion that these kind of sports should always be introduced as demonstration sports first and as a medal event in the Games after other competing countries have become competent enough to fight for medals.”