Jakarta. Women's shot-put gold medalist Eki Febri Ekawati lambasted Indonesian sport administrators on social media this week for delayed payments, which she said had forced her since the beginning of the year to use her own money to prepare for and compete in this year's Southeast Asian Games, which ended on Wednesday (30/08).
Eki won gold last week with a distance of 15.39 meters, slightly better than second-placed Areerat Intadis of Thailand, who threw 15.33 meters. It was Eki's first gold medal in the 10 years she has been participating in the games.
Despite her glorious win, Eki took to Instagram to say that the government has been delaying payments for her technical requirements since January. She went on to claim that Indonesia's worst performance in the history of the games was the result of bureaucratic red tape.
Indonesia only won 38 gold medals at this year's games, the fewest in four decades.
"I'm a gold medalist and my accommodation, including hotels, meals and many other things, have not been paid from January until August. The 2017 SEA Games are already over. How can we improve? Indonesia's sport management is so complicated," she wrote on her Instagram account @ekifebrie before making it private.
Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi meanwhile held a press conference at his offices in Jakarta on Thursday to apologize for the team's poor performance, and at the same time to also express his appreciation to the athletes.
Imam, a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), is keenly aware of the problems in his ministry that have resulted in some athletes not having been reimbursed properly.
"I apologize to all Indonesians for not meeting the SEA Games target. I'm personally holding the most responsibility and will report this matter to President Joko Widodo," Imam said, as quoted by the official website of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
He also addressed Eki's case.
"When using money from the state budget, there are rules and regulations with which we should comply," he said.
It is common in Indonesian sports for state funds to be delayed due to administrative red tape. The minister said he is aware of this and that he plans to make some changes.
"I have a breakthrough plan. Athletes in the future will receive part of their funding from state-owned companies and public crowdfunding to prevent delays involving money from the state budget," he said.
Imam added that he strongly believes training camps abroad are the best way to raise Indonesian athletes' performance.
"For the 2018 Asian Games, our athletes will attend training camps abroad for a period we will confirm later," he said.