JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): President Joko 'Jokowi'Widodo appears to have reignited his lofty ambitions of holding an international sporting tournament by building new state-of-the-art sports training facilities in the country’s new capital of Nusantara, in East Kalimantan, as part of the country’s bid to host the 2036 Olympics.
Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said following a meeting with Jokowi and head of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) Mochamad Iriawan at the State Palace on Wednesday that the President had called for new soccer training facilities to be built in Nusantara.
“The President has asked me and the PSSI to build soccer training facilities at Nusantara, the country’s new capital,” Zainudin said in a press statement, adding that the government would also be building facilities for other sports, including main and supporting facilities.
This, Zainudin said, would be part of the country’s preparations to launch a proposal looking to host the 2036 Olympics.
“The proposal will have [Nusantara] as its location,” Zainudin added. In response to Jokowi’s plans, head of Indonesia’s National Olympics Committee (NOC), Raja Sapta Oktohari said in a statement on Thursday (Aug 4) that the committee “will do all it can” to make Indonesia the first Asean country to hold the Olympics.
“We welcome the President’s directive to participate in the bidding for the 2036 Olympics, with the [country's proposed] venue being at the new capital,” Raja said, adding that the country had established continuous dialogue with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Future Host Commission – a division within the IOC responsible for picking host countries.
“With the new capital set to be the venue, we are optimistic that [Indonesia can win the bid for the 2036 Olympics], particularly since one of the points assessed [by the IOC] is the venue’s master plan, as well as its sustainability and legacy,” Raja added.
"The country’s prior sporting experience included hosting the 2018 Asian Games in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang in South Sumatra in August, as well as the currently ongoing Asean Para Games in Surakarta, Central Java.
"Indonesia also previously hosted the fourth Asian Games, way back in 1962. The Asian Games are recognised by the IOC as the largest multi-sport event after the Olympics and Indonesia’s hosting of the 2018 sporting event, which welcomed some 12,000 athletes, had proven to be largely successful, with tickets to sporting venues almost always sold out.
While it remains unclear when the bidding will start for the 2036 Olympics, any decision will take years, since bidding for the 2032 Olympics started in 2019, only to be won by Australia, which will host the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, in 2021.
Should Indonesia win the bid for hosting the 2036 Olympics, experts say that it will mark a move for Nusantara, the country’s new seat of democracy and governance, toward becoming a more people-oriented capital.
“It will be a legacy for the Indonesian public,” sports expert Djoko Pekik Irianto said on Thursday.
“Principally, I agree with the initiative to bring the Olympics to Indonesia.” Djoko said that proposing a new capital city hosting the Olympics might be an appealing factor for the IOC, but he also said that there were numerous facilities that the government needed to ensure were ready to be in contention for hosting the Olympics.
These, he said, included sporting venues up to the standard of the IOC, an athletes village, as well as a host of supporting facilities, such as transportation networks and health centers.
He also urged the government and lawmakers to be on the same page, in order to help prepare Nusantara to be a potential host for the 2036 Olympics. Jokowi first announced plans to relocate the capital away from heavily congested Jakarta in 2019, before it was shelved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the new capital project has seen significant progress, after lawmakers approved a bill in January that provides the legal framework for development of the new capital.
Jokowi said in June that basic infrastructure development had started for Nusantara, he intends to officially make Nusantara the country’s new capital before his term ends in 2024.
Nusantara will be located on 256,000 hectares in an area straddling North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara regencies. According to the current plan, the project will cost Rp 466 trillion (US$32.7 billion), 19 per cent of which is expected to be financed from the state budget and the rest is expected to be financed through investments from the private sector and foreign investors.