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Indonesia Takes Step Toward 2032 Olympic Hosting Bid

Ahmad Syamsudin and Ami Afriatni
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People wait for buses near a cutout of a weightlifter installed as a promotional tool for the 2018 Asian Games, at a bus stop near the main stadium in Jakarta, Feb. 19, 2019.
People wait for buses near a cutout of a weightlifter installed as a promotional tool for the 2018 Asian Games, at a bus stop near the main stadium in Jakarta, Feb. 19, 2019.

Following up on what Indonesian officials hailed as their country’s success in staging the 2018 Asian Games, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has sent a formal letter expressing Indonesia’s interest in hosting the Olympic Games in 2032, an official said Tuesday.

The president’s letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – relayed through Indonesia’s ambassador to Switzerland earlier this month – marks the first time the Southeast Asian nation has made such an initial move toward bidding to be in the running for hosting the world’s most prestigious sporting event.

“The next step will be to submit a proposal. There are 30,000 pages that must be filled out. We have been given until 2020,” Gatot Hendrarto, an assistant to the deputy minister for sports at the Youth and Sports Ministry, told reporters in Jakarta. He confirmed that Ambassador Muliawan Hadad had submitted the letter to IOC officials at the body’s headquarters in Lausanne.

Last September, Jokowi, who is seeking re-election on April 17, said IOC officials were impressed by Indonesia’s efficiency in hosting the Asian Games and its ability to attract public interest. If selected for staging the 2032 Games, Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia and world’s fourth most populous one, would be the first in the region to host the Olympics.

“The IOC is of the view that we deserve to host bigger multi-sport events, capitalizing on the success of the Asian Games,” Gatot said.

The Asian Games, held last year in the capital Jakarta and Palembang on Sumatra island, were hailed as a major success despite initial chaos in a ticketing system that contributed to low attendance in some stadiums, according to media reports.

“The IOC has recognized Indonesia’s capability while organizing the 2018 Asian Games and Para Games that were successful. I think this is quite a strong foundation,” Antara, the state-run news agency, quoted Ambassador Hadad as saying.

Other nations, however, have also expressed interest in submitting bids to host the 2032 Olympic Games, including India and a potential joint bid from South Korea and North Korea. Representatives of the two Koreas met with Olympic officials last week to discuss sending unified teams to compete in some sports in the 2020 games in Tokyo and also talked about their plan to submit their own 2032 host letter, according to published reports.

The IOC’s decision could take years as previous host cities normally were announced seven years before the event, according to published reports. If that schedule were to be followed, the announcement on the 2032 games would be made in 2025.

In 2017, the IOC announced the host cities for both the 2024 and 2028 games – Paris followed by Los Angeles. Both cities will be hosting their third Olympics and emerged as the two finalists for the 2024 games after three other countries withdrew their bids, according to reports.

To date, only three Asian nations have hosted the Olympics: Japan, South Korea and China.

A counter-competition

Indonesia’s relationship with the IOC has not always been positive.

After Indonesia barred Israeli and Taiwanese athletes from competing in the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, the IOC banned the nation from competing in the 1964 Olympics.

In response to the Olympic ban, Indonesian founding President Sukarno established the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) as the developing world’s answer to the Olympics.

The first GANEFO games, attended by 51 nations, took place in Jakarta in April 1963. GANEFO disbanded after the 1966 games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, because members stopped sending teams to avoid being suspended by the IOC.

Indonesian athletes returned to the Olympics in 1968.

A hurdle

Retired Indonesian badminton star and Olympic medalist Taufik Hidayat welcomed the country’s efforts and stated intention in applying to host the Olympics in 13 years.

“Obviously we will be very proud if we are trusted to host the games, because not every country can,” he told BenarNews.

He warned that the country had a lot of work to do to be able to host such a major sporting event.

“Are sports facilities up to Olympic standards? What about infrastructure such as the athletes’ village and road access? These things are not going to be easy,” he said.

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