Jakarta. The one-year countdown to the 2018 Asian Games, which will be hosted by Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, will start on Friday (18/08).
There will be two simultaneous events – one at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta, and the other at the Kuto Besak Fortress in Palembang.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will attend the Jakarta event, while local and international artists are expected to perform at both.
South Korean female pop group Girls' Generation, also known as SNSD, will perform at the Jakarta event, although not all the members will be present. Spectators will also experience traditional Indonesian culture, including dangdut music performances.
All local television channels will broadcast the events live, while international channels will reportedly also air some of the proceedings.
"This countdown is to tell the Asian people that there is exactly one year to go before the start of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang," Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (Inasgoc) chairman Erick Thohir told reporters during a press conference at the body's offices in Jakarta on Tuesday.
"We expect the collaboration by these international and Indonesian artists to make global headlines," he added.
The official countdown clock will be placed near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, to commemorate the 1962 Asian Games, which took place in Jakarta. Former President Sukarno initiated the construction of Hotel Indonesia for that occasion.
Access to the countdown events in both Jakarta and Palembang will be free of charge.
Cultural Change Through Sports
Erick, who is also the president of Italian football giant Inter Milan, said they plan to use the Asian Games as a test to bring cultural change to Indonesians.
Citing China as an example, he said that county's successful hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics changed the way people deal with traffic, littering and sanitation.
"I expect the Asian Games to bring positive cultural changes, such as more disciplined queuing habits, or seeing public toilets being kept clean," Erick said.
Erick gave assurances that preparations for next year's Asian Games are on track, although he admitted that they were facing some challenges, such as financing.
Most of the funding for the event comes from the state budget, with some private sector sponsorships. The government will reportedly contribute nearly Rp 4.5 trillion ($338 million) towards the preparations.
"Because we partially use fund from the state budget, the finance management becomes 'interesting.' This means that we as the organizers should be more transparent," Erick explained.
"We will also partner with international auditors to manage the administration as we are also dealing with many state institutions, including the BPK [Supreme Audit Agency]," he added.
Erick said progress in the development of the venues is promising, with the Athlete's Village already having reached 90 percent completion.
"The hockey court and indoor arena at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex are also ready for use," he said.