Sports Officials Call for KOI, KONI Merger

FEBRUARY 23, 2015

Bogor. With the ongoing dispute between the Indonesian Olympic Committee and the Indonesian National Sports Committee unlikely to reach a resolution in the near future, calls for a merger between the two national sports administrators were raised during the local Olympic affiliate’s annual meeting in Bogor on Friday.

In his speech, former national sports committee (KONI) chairman Agum Gumelar urged his counterparts to support a reunification between KONI and the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI), which split under the 2005 National Sports Law after a series of heated squabbles among high-ranking administrators.

“It is said that the biggest legacy of sports is friendship. We, as the country’s sports stakeholders, carry the honor of developing the nation’s athletes, which is a difficult task,” Agum said.

“We were chosen to host the 2018 Asian Games. It’s an honor for us and let’s not disappoint [Asia]. The government does not carry the sole responsibility of staging a smooth Asiad. KOI also plays a large role in the task, while KONI must ensure that our athletes are ready to further Indonesia’s achievements in sports.

“I think it’s better to merge both organizations. As leader [of KONI], I understand the move would require sacrifices, which I am willing to make.”

The feud will only hinder Indonesia’s performance in international sporting events, he added.

In its Jan. 27 letter to the government, the International Olympic Committee warned that KONI’s illegal use of the Olympic rings in its logo could cost Indonesia the right to host the Asian Games.  Furthermore, national athletes may lose their chance to take part in international competitions should the IOC place sanctions on Indonesia.

“It’s our athletes who will suffer from this. So, I really hope KONI, KOI and the government will sit down and talk about a possible merger by revising the [National Sports] Law,” Agum added.

The idea of reunion has received support from several national sport federations, including the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) and the Indonesian Scuba Diving and Fin Swimming Association (Possi).

“So far, our shuttlers have not suffered from the dispute. But if it continues, the friction [between KOI and KONI] will surely fester and spread. For the good of Indonesia’s athletic development, the two organizations must set aside their difference and reunite,” PBSI secretary general Achmad Budiharto said.

“The committees have their own set of officials, which can potentially lead to further conflict. Merging under one leader could prevent this,” he added.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, however, played down ideas of a merger, saying a revision of the National Sports Law would take time.

“We are now looking for a win-win solution with both organizations. Saving the Asian Games is now our priority,” said  Djoko Pekik, a ministry official.

KOI chairwoman Rita Subowo agreed, saying: “We are now working hard to avoid sanctions from the IOC. We need the government to act as facilitator to save the Asian Games.”