Wed, 29 Mar 2000

37 nations set for Shotokan c'ships

JAKARTA (JP): Thirty seven countries have confirmed their participation in the seventh World Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIP) championships next month in Nusa Dua, Bali.

The organizing committee chairman, Efjuno Tando, said on Tuesday that the organizers were still waiting for confirmation from 22 other countries to compete in the event.

Tando expressed worry regarding complaints from some countries on new regulations stating that each country could only field three persons in the 75kgs division.

"Some countries including Switzerland and Japan have complained about this. Switzerland had prepared seven athletes and urged us to cancel the regulation, while Japan protested because its athletes had been undergoing diets to lose weight. Finally we decided not to limit the number of participants in the division," he said.

"Most competitors in the division come from Europe and America. Asian athletes very rarely compete in that class."

Tando, who is also chairman of the Inkado karate school, said Indonesia would have a slight chance in the +75kgs division but a wide opportunity in the -75kgs and -65kgs divisions.

"I have not given them any target. They are undergoing a centralized training program. They have performed very well in the individual and team kata. Hopefully our athletes can win medals in both events."

Inkado staged a two-day selection last weekend and picked 28 names to represent the country in the championships. They will compete in the men's individual kata, men's team kata, men's -65kgs kumite, men's -75kgs kumite, men's +75kgs kumite, women's -60kgs kumite and women's +60kgs kumite.

Tando was optimistic that Aswan Ali would be able to repeat his success in the 1994 championships in Yokohama, Japan, where he grabbed the gold in the men's individual kata. But Aswan failed to win his second gold in the 1997 championships in Milan, Italy, and ended up finishing in fourth place.

Tando named France, Italy, Japan and Switzerland as favorites.

Speaking on the preparations, Tando said Inkado was still facing financial problems and spent a total of US$30,000 just to make tribunes and five arenas at the Sheraton Nusa Indah Resort.

Tando then met with the Japanese ambassador to Indonesia, Takao Kawakami, asking for help. Kawakami contacted the Jakarta Japan Club Foundation, requesting their aid, but Tando won't receive an answer from them until Tuesday.

Another member of the organizers, Fauzi Saidi, expressed disappointment toward the state minister of tourism and art, Hidayat Djailani, who did not offer a comment on the upcoming championships.

"There will be nearly 1,000 athletes worldwide competing in Bali but the minister doesn't even care to comment on the event," he said. (yan)