Lawn care workers are seen at the Gelora Sriwijaya Jakabaring Stadium in Palembang, South Sumatra, on Sept. 21, 2020. The stadium is being prepared for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May-June next year. (Antara Photo/Nova Wahyudi)

Athletes' Vaccination Keeps Fighting Spirit Alive for International Matches

MARCH 23, 2021

Jakarta. Athletes are among the priority list for Indonesia's second round of Covid-19 vaccination. On Feb. 26, athletes, trainers, and their support staff had gotten their first dose. Followed by their second shot on March 13.

"The second-phase vaccination is prioritizing athletes and its support staff to prepare for both national and international championships to bring glory to the nation's name," Riskiyana Sukhandi Putra, the Health Ministry's sport health director, told an online conference titled "Boosting the Athletes' Spirit through Vaccination" held by the Covid-19 Handling and National Economic Recovery Committee (KPCPEN) and broadcasted on FMB9ID_IKB on Monday.

The Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry secretary Gatot S Dewa Broto highlighted how enormous the athletes' contribution is to the country. "Quoting the vice president's statement, [we] can only [wave] the national flag and listen to our national anthem overseas on two occasions — during a state visit and when an athlete wins an international competition. This is why we are prioritizing to vaccinate athletes." 

As many as 821 athletes and support staff have received the Covid-19 jab on the mass vaccination at sports center Istora Senayan, Jakarta. The Covid-19 vaccine is also not limited to the national athletes, but also those in other regions.

The central KONI chief for achievement Doedie Gambiro noted the 20th National Sports Week (PON) in Papua is coming soon this October.

"We have just held a meeting with the 34 provincial-level Indonesian National Sports Committee, or KONI, and asked all athletes and support staff to be vaccinated immediately."

Almost 7,000 athletes will compete in the quadrennial event. With the officials into the mix, around 10,000 contingents will fly to Papua this October.

To this end, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed Sports Minister Zainudin Amali to prepare for PON. "The president called for an immediate vaccination for athletes as well as the communities around the venue," Gatot said.

According to Doedie, the psychological factor plays a role in determining a sports victory. "The vaccine gives comfort, so the athletes can compete at their best. It boosts their confidence." 

He also considers PON as an opportunity to show how well Indonesia controls the pandemic with strict health protocols. "Rather than an obstacle, it will be quite the interesting challenge as we would show how we can hold PON Papua despite the pandemic."

"The international world thinks highly of Indonesia for prioritizing athletes for the Covid-19 jab. The athletes' vaccination is a huge impact," Gatot said.

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