The government’s plan to host the Islamic Solidarity Games in Jakarta is now in doubt after it opted to revisit an earlier decision to move the event to the capital from Pekanbaru in Riau.
Less than a month ago, the Youth and Sports Ministry announced plans to move the Games to Jakarta due to Riau’s lack of preparation. But a ministerial visit to Pekanbaru prompted consideration of a plan to return the Sept. 22 to Oct. 1 global sporting event to the Sumatran city.
On their visit, People’s Welfare Coordinating Minister Agung Laksono and Youth and Sports Minister Roy Suryo surveyed the preparations in Riau. They inspected several venues, including the troubled Riau main stadium, where the Games were to take place.
In March, during a visit by Rita Subowo of the Indonesia Olympic Committee (KOI), subcontractors sealed off the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies were to have taken place. This came as workers demanded the local government pay money owed to the building consortium that it allegedly held back.
On Monday, Riau Governor Rusli Zainal, who also serves as chairman of the Games’ local organizing committee, said the main stadium was no longer a major obstacle.
“The local government has made an agreement on the payment scheme with the consortium and they are now ready to prepare the stadium for the Games,” Rusli said while accompanying the ministers during the visit. “We are now also renovating the aquatic stadium.”
Rusli’s explanation convinced Agung that Pekanbaru was still capable of hosting the games. “From what I understand, there is no major problem on the venues’ preparation. They just need a few renovations, but it depends on the youth and sports minister,” Agung said.
Although he believed slow preparations were no longer a problem, Roy said another issue that might disrupt the progress was Rusli’s status as a suspect in the 2012 National Games graft case.
“It is one of the reasons I decided to move the games to Jakarta. It might hamper the preparations and if something happens along the way, who will be in charge?” Roy said.
Responding to Roy’s question, Agung said Rusli could be replaced by another member of organizing committee at any time.
“It should not be a problem. All Riau needs is intensive supervision from the national government,” he said.
The Islamic Solidarity Games bring together athletes from the 56 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Roy previously said he decided to move the Games to Jakarta in an effort to save the image of Riau and Indonesia as a whole.
“We do not want more [corruption] cases similar what happened with the National Games. We do not want games to be opened in Riau and closed by the KPK,” he said last month, referring to the Corruption Eradication Commission.
The decision to move the games to Jakarta offended the people of Riau, local organizers said at the time.
“The people of Riau, the Regional Representatives Council and local organizers were shocked about the unilateral decision,” local organizing body spokesman Ridar Hendri said. “Riau has been doing its best for the preparations.”
The decision, Ridar said, was inconsistent with the minister’s previous statement, that moving the Games from Riau was not an option.
Ridar also challenged the ministry to prove Riau’s unpreparedness for the games. “We are now renovating the aquatic stadium, so tell us why are we not ready?”
Ridar added that the recruitment of volunteers was still ongoing and that the organizers were ready to provide them with training.