Jakarta. Indonesia has set its sights on entering the top three of the medal table at the 31st Southeast Asian Games, or SEA Games, in Vietnam.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced the said goal at the contingent send-off ceremony at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Monday.
“We are aiming for third, second or first place at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam. This is not something that is easy to do. But I heard the preparations have gone well and hopefully, we can make it,” Jokowi said.
“I would like for us to have a smaller contingent. [...] All of us Indonesians want our athletes to make the highest achievements possible by amassing as many medals to make the nation proud,” the president added.
Indonesia had failed to make it to the top three at the recent SEA Games editions.The country ranked fifth at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. Indonesia remained in fifth place at the 2017 edition in Malaysia. Indonesia finished the 2019 Philippines SEA Games in fourth place.
According to Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali, 499 Indonesian athletes will compete in 32 sports at the 2021 SEA Games. Indonesia is also sending off 214 officials and 63 headquarters personnels.
This is a lot less than the thousands-member contingent that Indonesia had at the 2019 SEA Games, during which 841 athletes represented the country in 52 sports.
“We have started applying a rigorous selection process at the 31st SEA Games. Our review team [came up] with a 776-member contingent,” Zainudin said.
Zainudin went on to say that the selection process embraces a new paradigm and takes into account the athletes' track record.
The 31st SEA Games opening ceremony is scheduled to be held on May 12 in Vietnam.
The biennial event was set to take place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2, 2021, but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.