By Matters India Reporter
Jakarta: The 18th Asian Games will be officially opened at 2 pm on local timeon August 18 in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia.
Indonesia president Joko Widodo officially will open the ceremony. As many as 45 Asian countries will participate in this event.
Themed “Energy of Asia”, the logo for the Asian Games 2018 depicts a stylized aerial view of Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, which will host football and athletics this year. The logo also features sunbeams radiating through the stadium’s eight gates.
The August 18 – September 2 event will be held in Palembang, South Sumatra, besides Jakarta.
“As Indonesian who lives in Jakarta, generally I am profoundly proud that Indonesian hosts this 18th Asian Games. This will be the first time in the history that Asian Games will happen in two cities, Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra,” Ambrosius Sigit Kristiantoro, who works in Tarakanita Catholic institution in Jakarta, told Matters India on August 17.
“However, I feel a bit disappointed as to my observation, the enthusiasm of the people in Jakarta is less, this perhaps is that the effort of the local government of Jakarta is not maximal in promoting the biggest event in Asia,” he added
“We must look at the Asian Games as a celebration in the Asian continent, not only as an event of sports competition. This, all of us must participate in this event which can become a means to bridge and promote unity among us in Asia,” he said.
A different reality is in Palembang—a city 13 km north of Jakarta. Palembang shows its readiness in welcoming the 18th Asian Games. The government just finished the infrastructure project of LRT (Light Rail Train) to support this event and as a means to transport the athletes and the visitors from the airport to the sports centre venue. Palembang is the first city in Indonesia which has an LRT means of transportation.
“The enthusiasm of the people is mirrored in the readiness of the city to be the host of Asian Games,” said Josephine Wulandari, a student of Musi Caritas Catholic University in Palembang, South Sumatra.
The participation of the people is shown in different ways, from selling and wearing Asian Games attributes or mascots to enthusiastically visiting the venue before the event.
“Not only the government who is exciting with the program, however, the local Church is getting ready as well to welcome the Catholic athletes to have Mass in the church by getting ready for English Mass,” said Wulandari.
In Indonesia, English Mass rarely happens in the local church. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country.
The mascots have never been cuter than the trio that embodies the spirit of the Asian Games 2018; bird of paradise Bhin Bhin representing strategy; Bawean deer Atung signifying speed; and single-horned rhino Kaka denoting strength. The names of the mascots are derived from Indonesia’s guiding philosophy. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning, ‘unity in diversity’- a reflection of the strength of the incredibly diverse Asian region.
The Asian Games 2018 is the region’s best athletes contest across multiple sporting disciplines. For the first time in the history of the quadrennial event, the games, popularly known as Jakarta Palembang 2018, is co-hosted by two cities – Jakarta and Palembang – in Indonesia.
Throughout its history, the Asian Games has acted not just as a sporting platform for Asian athletes, but also an event to strengthen ties between Asian nations. The multisport event sees 10,000 athletes from 45 countries compete across 42 sporting disciples – 33 of which are events confirmed for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The Asian Games is organized by the Olympic Council of Asia and is recognized as the second large multisport event after the Olympic Games. Given the importance of the Asian Games, it is not surprising that the event doubles as a tune-up for the Olympic Games, which follows two years later.
A key highlight of the Asian Games 2018 is football, especially following this year’s World Cup in Russia. A total of 32 men’s football teams – the largest number in the history of the games – are scheduled to compete.