Asian Olympic Chiefs: Only "Minor Problems" at Indonesia Games

(ATR) OCA chiefs say Asian Games running smoothly, with NOCs raising few concerns. Aaron Bauer reports from Jakarta


(ATR) Leaders from the Olympic Council of Asia say Indonesia has delivered on its promises for the Asian Games, despite only three years of preparations.

In a press conference Monday in Jakarta, OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and honorary vice president Wei Ji Zhong said that so far only minor complaints have been heard during daily chef de mission meetings.

Ahmad sidestepped addressing issues raised by human rights groups about the Indonesian police deploying tough security measures, which have left over 70 dead in raids on criminal groups since January. He said it was not for the OCA to judge how a country runs its national security practices, and that the Olympic body was not aware of the specific issues raised by groups.

"I think you have to speak to security from Indonesia... they have more information than all of us," Ahmad said in response to a question posed by Around the Rings.

He said Indonesia has been home to a number of terrorist incidents since bombings on the island of Bali in 2002, and that other countries around the world, including the U.S., deploy tough policing domestically.

Nina Nurmila from the Indonesian National Commission on Violence against Woman told ATR it was important that human rights groups have put pressure on the country's government to investigate the police practices. Such pressure shows a democracy willing to challenge its institutions, she said.

"They want to keep these big events secure because if the police cannot secure the Asian Games, our name as an Asian country will be bad, but the way to do that is not good," Nurmila said. "There has to be [an independent investigation]. The ombudsman has put pressure on to do the investigation…because extra judicial killings are against Indonesian law."

Wei said that during daily meetings with the 45 different NOCs participating in the Asian Games organizers have not "received any protest" about event-related issues.

Indonesia assumed hosting duties for the Asian Games in late 2014 after Vietnam withdrew from its event staging responsibilities. That left the country with only three years to complete construction on some new venues and renovations on existing facilities. Normally, host cities have around six years to prepare for the Games.

"Under the guidance of OCA, we are working together with the Indonesian Asian Games 2018 Organizing Committee to solve any problem immediately," Wei said. "Now the competition starts, and until now everything is in order. From the competition side, we [have heard] only some minor problems due to communication."

Ahmad said that Indonesia should be commended for being able to work through the tight timelines to produce "a very beautiful opening ceremony" and successful coordination. On day three of the competition schedule, there will be 31 simultaneous events going on in Jakarta and Palembang.

"I think it was the highest standard opening ceremony ever," Ahmad said. "[After] the three years of hard work between Indonesia and us and our organizing committee we successfully reacheda comfortable situation, which gives us more confidence that we will have a successful Games."

Written by Aaron Bauer in Jakarta

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