November 21, 2022
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo this week announced Indonesia’s formal bid to host the 2036 Summer Olympics in the currently unbuilt new capital city of Nusantara, raising the stakes on infrastructure development as well as reforms in the sporting sector following the tragic death of hundreds of people in a post-soccer match stampede.
Jokowi revealed the decision on the margins of the Group of 20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali on Wednesday.
“I hereby announce Indonesia’s readiness and willingness to host the 2036 Olympics in the capital city of Nusantara,” the President said in a televised statement.
At a separate press conference alongside International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, Youth and Sports Minister Zainuddin Amali reiterated the bid.
“We are very serious about it. We’ve had experiences hosting multidisciplinary sports events, and they were all successful,” said Amali.
In a little over a decade, Indonesia has hosted the 2018 Asian Games and the 2011 SEA Games, but aside from being considerably smaller in scale, these events were held in Jakarta and Palembang, two existing major cities with the necessary supporting infrastructure.
While construction for the new capital city project had already commenced in July, doubts still remain over the megaproject’s future after Japan’s Softbank Group withdrew its funding support in March. With approximately 80 percent of the project’s proposed funding to come from non-state investors, the government announced in October various tax incentives to lure additional financing.
Located on the east coast of Kalimantan, the first phase of Nusantara’s construction is scheduled for completion by 2024, with Jokowi planning to inaugurate the city before his term ends. But the project will not be fully realized until 2045, when the city is expected to form part of a tri-city ecosystem with neighboring Balikpapan and Samarinda.
This fact has not tempered Bach’s expectations, with the IOC president welcoming Indonesia’s bid for the 2036 Olympics in a press release.
“Having seen a presentation of the Nusantara project and the progress already achieved, I am deeply impressed by the vision of President Widodo to develop this city as a model for sustainable living, with a special emphasis on health and sport,” said Bach.
Wednesday’s announcement was not the first time Jokowi has voiced his ambition for a stake at the Olympics, with Amali relaying the information as early as August.
Since then, however, Indonesia’s sporting scene has been dealt a severe blow in the Kanjuruhan stadium tragedy on Oct. 1 that saw 135 people killed after a Liga 1 football match in Malang, East Java.
The decision by the police to fire tear gas into the stands to disperse pitch invaders, a move FIFA has expressly banned in their regulations, triggered a stampede that turned deadly when pile-ups occurred at locked and narrow exit gates at the stadium.
While the police claimed the use of tear gas was necessary, a survey from Indikator Politik released last week showed that the majority of the public believed otherwise. “Of the respondents who are aware of the tragedy, 64.5 percent disagreed with the police’s claim that the use of tear gas was in accordance with procedures when the crowd turned anarchic,” the survey states.
Out of all parties involved, the police were judged by 39.1 percent of respondents to be the most at fault for the tragedy. Another 27.2 percent of respondents blamed league organizers PT Liga Indonesia Baru, while 13 percent pointed the blame at the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) as the party most responsible for the incident.
A government fact-finding team formed in the aftermath of Kanjuruhan, led by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD, has since given its report to President Jokowi, calling for all professional soccer leagues to be put on hold while the PSSI cleans up its act.
After communicating with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Jokowi announced in October wide-ranging reforms to the Indonesian soccer scene, involving a transformation team that includes FIFA delegates working out of the country.
Details have yet to emerge on how the government plans to reform Indonesia’s wider sporting sector, even as Jokowi continues promoting the nation as a world sporting destination. The first test of this state-led initiative will be next year’s Under-21 FIFA Soccer World Cup competition.
This year alone, Indonesia has hosted multiple global motorsport events, headlined by a MotoGP race in March at a newly built circuit in Mandalika, East Nusa Tenggara. Despite controversies about the poor quality of the asphalt that caused minor injuries to riders, Jokowi described the event as a success overall.
Aside from the continuation of the MotoGP race, Indonesia will also play host to the 2023 World Beach Games to be held in Bali in August. Delegates from around 100 nations will compete across 14 different beach and water sports.