Indonesia’s immigration office mull ‘sports visa’ plan amid Indonesia’s sporting ambitions

Immigration Directorate General Silmy Karim said the visa is planned for an end-March launch.

Fikri Harish

Fikri Harish

The Jakarta Post


Fireworks explode over the Gelora Bung Karno main stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on Aug. 18, 2018.(AFP/Jewel Samad)

March 13, 2023

JAKARTA – As Indonesia sets out to host multiple international sporting events this year, the Immigration Directorate General has announced a plan to issue a special “sports visa” to help lure global sports fans into the country.

“We don’t want Indonesia to miss out on the tourism potential from the various sports events held in the country, so we plan on accommodating these sports fans with this sports visa,” Immigration Director General Silmy Karim said on Sunday as quoted by Antara.

While Silmy did not reveal the details of what this sports visa would entail, he said that the Law and Human Rights Ministry through the Immigration Directorate General plans to launch the visa by the end of March.

Immigration directorate spokesman Achmad Nur Saleh told The Jakarta Post that Silmy “will make a more detailed statement soon”, but did not reveal any concrete timeline.

Silmy’s statements come as the country is set to host multiple international sporting events in 2023.

In February, Lake Toba in North Sumatera hosted a Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship race for the first time, while the Mandalika Circuit in Lombok cemented its permanent status in the World Superbike Championship calendar after hosting its third race last week.

But the biggest test will not arrive until May when the country is scheduled to host the three-week-long 2023 U-20 FIFA World Cup across six cities.

Despite initial doubts about whether Indonesia would be able to host the tournament after the Kanjuruhan tragedy in October, Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) chairman Erick Thohir said on Wednesday that preparations were already complete.

“[The tournament] is in 73 days, and I feel that this is the quickest preparation Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali and I have overseen. We had to work hard together as the tight deadline isn’t an excuse,” Erick said.

To help promote the event, the PSSI and the Youth and Sports Ministry launched a series of official U-20 World Cup merchandise on Wednesday, in partnership with local sporting apparel manufacturer PT Juara Raga Aditya (Juaraga).

Sporting ambitions

Zainudin, who on Thursday officially tendered his resignation as minister to focus on his role as PSSI deputy chairman, said that ensuring the success of the U-20 World Cup was instrumental in furthering Indonesia’s global sporting ambitions.

“If this tournament is a success, it could provide a launchpad for Pak Erick and the PSSI to make a bid for the senior World Cup in the future,” said Zainudin.

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Bali in November 2022, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo outlined Indonesia’s sporting ambitions by announcing that the country was prepared to host the 2036 Olympics in the planned new capital city Nusantara, currently under construction in East Kalimantan.

More recently, Indonesian Motor Association (IMI) chairman Bambang Soesatyo announced on Feb. 18 that the association was exploring the possibility of hosting a Formula 1 race in the country.

The IMI is proposing the still-in-construction Bintan International Circuit in Bintan, Riau Islands, or a new circuit in Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK), North Jakarta, as the two possible venues.

While doubts remain over the feasibility of these proposals, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has said he believed in the potential for Indonesia to be a sports tourism destination.

“Indonesia will continue to be active in proposing to host various world-class sporting events. […] We will consecutively host the U-20 FIFA World Cup, the FIBA [Basketball] World Cup and the World Beach Games in the near future,” said Sandiaga.

As part of a joint bid with Japan and the Philippines, Indonesia is set to host the international men’s basketball tournament, the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, in August.

Given the lack of capacity at Istora Senayan in Jakarta, which is capable of seating around 7,000 people, Indonesia is building a new indoor multipurpose stadium set to be completed in June.

The new stadium, named the Indonesia Arena, is located within the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta. “[The new stadium] will be able to accommodate 16,250 spectators, and could be used for various sporting events as well as other cultural events,” Jokowi said in January.

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