Indonesian athletes and sports officials breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday when the nation's Enterprise Ministry agreed to provide economic support to the Indonesia National Sports Committee (KONI) in preparation for several international sporting events, including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The announcement arrived amid budget shortfalls that have detracted from KONI's ability to prepare for major events, including this year’s Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
The Enterprise Ministry first partnered with KONI in 2010, to aid hundreds of national athletes in their training for the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta and Palembang. That partnership ended when the games did.
Instead of distributing the funds among national sports governing bodies like last time, the new agreement will allocate funds directly to selected athletes.
“After a thorough evaluation, we decided to fund individual athletes," Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Djoko Pekik told the Jakarta Globe. "We had some difficulties with the old partnership system. The companies tended to cooperate with the favorite sports, while other sports struggled to get the sponsorship. We have fixed it to be more fair for athletes. With the new system, we believe athletes will get more benefits."
Athlete selection, Djoko said, will fall under the purview of PB and Prima, a program that oversees the preparation of elite athletes for multi-sport events.
The new partnership will start this year, in time for the Myanmar Games.
It continues throughout the 2014 Asian Games, 2015 SEA Games, and 2016 Olympics.
Djoko said PB and Prima are now in talks to select the athletes who will receive support.
Enterprise Minister Dahlan Iskan pledged to build sponsorships through his experience as a senior official in national sports associations. Some 40 private companies are prepared to join the partnership.
“I really hoped that we could release the sponsorship budget faster than we did, but we could not because of the bureaucracy," Dahlan said, after the agreement signing ceremony. "On behalf of the government, I do apologize. I realize athletes’ preparation cannot and should not be delayed because they have goals to meet. I also hope athletes can give their best along with the sponsorship.”
The previous partnership saw approximately 40 companies join in support of the sports federations, including Bank Mandiri, which contributed to the Indonesian Athletics Association (PASI); Garuda Indonesia, which partnered with the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti); and Bank Rakyat Indonesia, which helped fund the Indonesian Karate-do Federation (Forki).