Jakarta. Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Zainudin Amali announced that the 2020 National Games, or PON, in Papua, which was going to be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, would be postponed until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"After reading reports from the Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Ministry and the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry, President Joko Widodo had decided to postpone the 2020 National Games and National Paralympics Games to October 2021," Zainudin said in a press teleconference in Jakarta on Thursday.
According to Zainudin, delayed construction on the sporting venues and the Covid-19 pandemic are the two main reasons for the postponement.
"Construction on the sporting venues had to be postponed because of the pandemic," he said.
Zainudin said building materials for the venues that had to be shipped from outside Papua are still stranded at their ports of origins.
"As we know, the Papua provincial government has imposed a lockdown on the area. This has also stopped construction workers from coming in," he said.
According to him, the pandemic has also made it harder to import sports equipment needed for the Games since many of the exporting countries have stopped production.
"They haven't been able to produce the equipment we needed, let alone ship them here," Zainudin said.
The Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI), the Papua Governor and the House of Representatives' Commission X have also recommended the postponement of the Games.
Zainudin also said that most athletes are not ready for competition since almost all training centers in every region have been closed because of the coronavirus crisis, even though some athletes have continued to train independently.
"They can only maintain fitness by training on their own. There's no way to achieve maximum readiness. They won't be able to perform at in peak conditions at the PON, especially in team sports," Zainudin said.