Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo joined the leader of the opposition, Prabowo Subianto, and other prominent figures to watch the 2018 Asian Games pencak silat final at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta on Wednesday (29/08).
Indonesia won six of the eight gold medals at stake in pencak silat, which made its debut at this year's Asian Games.
Jokowi, who only arrived in time to watch the last two events, was seated next to Prabowo, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI). They were accompanied by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri and Syafruddin, chef de mission of the Indonesian 2018 Asian Games contingent.
Indonesia's Hanifan Yudani Kusumah, who won gold after defeating Nguyễn Thái Linh of Vietnam in the men's Class C event, made a victory lap after his match and ran to the VIP seats to embrace Jokowi and Prabowo in a group hug, in a gesture of unity.
His spontaneous act saw the capacity crowd of more than 3,000 spectators erupt in thunderous applause and cheering.
"Jokowi and Prabowo are both great people. We are a nation, we should not be divided because of something unimportant," Hanifan said later, referring to political tensions between the two leaders' followers in recent years.
Prabowo, founder and chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), has challenged Jokowi to a rematch in next year's presidential election, after the former Army general lost in a tight race in 2014.
"Through pencak silat, I want to show that Indonesia is a safe and peaceful country," the 20-year-old athlete said.
In his response, Prabowo said: "Whatever it is, for the sake of our nation and country, we will be united."
Indonesia bagged another five gold medals in pencak silat on Wednesday, courtesy of Wewey Wita in the women's Class B, Pipiet Kamelia in the women's Class D, Sugianto in the men's single art, Ni Made Dwiyanti and Ayu Wilantari in the women's doubles art, and Pramudita Yuristya, Gina Lestari and Lutfi Nurhasanah in the women's team art events.
Indonesia has won 14 gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games pencak silat competition, which has now been concluded.
Each gold medal will cost the government Rp 1.5 billion ($102,000) and Jokowi has assured the athletes that they will receive their bonuses on time.
"I will coordinate this tonight so that the bonuses will be paid out as soon as possible," the president told reporters.
"Pencak silat has made the government broke, having to pay all these bonuses," he said with a smile, while looking at Prabowo.
Indonesia is now in fourth place on the 2018 Asian Games medal table with 30 gold, 22 silver and 36 bronze medals.