Former Athletes Urge Sport Ministry to Pay More Focus

FEBRUARY 19, 2015

Jakarta. With only three years to go until the 2018 Asian Games, former national athletes have voiced their concerns about the Sports Ministry’s apparent lack of attention to preparing athletes for continental multi-sports events, which they argue should have been more of a priority in the first 100 days of the new government.

Instead, Minister Imam Nahrawi has opted to focus on more popular issues, including forming a team to supervise the Indonesian Football Association, or PSSI, for no apparent reason.

“The first 100 days of the new ministry was supposed to be important for introducing new programs or breakthroughs to deal with current issues or problems, and to work on the country’s sports grand design,” Taufik Hidayat, a former world and Olympic badminton champion who now chairs the Former National Athletes Forum, or FKMAN, said on Monday.

“We haven’t seen any new policies or breakthroughs from the ministry, particularly with regard to how to do well at the Asian Games, which is our biggest concern. This is Asia’s biggest sporting event. Other host countries have been known to take six years to prepare. Right now, we only have three years left.

“Considering the lack of time, the minister should be working more seriously to solve the problem. If we don’t do anything, the Asian Games will be nothing but a waste of the state budget.”

Among the problems facing Indonesia in preparing for the Asian Games is the very real prospect that it may not even get to host the event, thanks to the churlish insistence of the Indonesian National Sports Committee, or KONI, to illegally incorporate the Olympic rings into its logo.

The International Olympic Committee last month issued a letter warning that the continued copyright violation could result in Indonesia losing the right to host the Asian Games.

The Indonesian Olympic Committee, or KOI, is the only national sports administration body in Indonesia authorized to use the Olympic rings in its logo.

Sonny Kasiran, a former weight-lifter who now serves as secretary general of the sport’s local governing body, said all athletes were fed up with the constant squabbling between the KOI and the KOI, which has frequently resulted in athletes missing trips to international competitions, or not receiving funding for training, equipment and travel expenses.

“All we do care is about the athletes’ preparation for multi-sports events,” Sonny said.

“The lifters are now preparing for the Rio [de Janeiro] Olympics next year, but they’ve only received Rp 200,000 [$15.70] for daily expenses, including accommodation. Realistically, those competing in the lightest weight class need Rp 350,000 every day. We’re being left far behind.”

The former athletes also demanded the Sports Ministry re-evaluate Prima, the body ostensibly in charge of preparing top athletes for international events.

“Prima was established to support the sports federations and strengthen the high-performance program. But now it is no more than an administration desk for the ministry, with most of its officials incompetent,”

Taufik said. Ministry spokesman Gatot S. Dewa Broto said on Tuesday that the ministry “welcomes the feedback” and agreed on the need to reassess Prima’s running.

“We demand the ministry to replace the incompetent ones with selected experts through fit and proper test.”