Mon, 11 Sep 2000

Athletes told to maintain their health in cold weather

JAKARTA (JP): The last 52 athletes, coaches and officials left for the Sydney Olympics on Sunday, with some voicing concern over the physical condition of athletes in the cool weather of Sydney.

"Athletes have to overcome the chilly weather in Sydney which can lead to cold symptoms. We have asked them to maintain their physical fitness by resting and taking more vitamins," the chef de mission of the Indonesian contingent, Arie Sudewo, said.

"We won't give them injections to help them fight off colds. Injections will only cause fever, which would affect their performance," he said.

Arie was speaking on the sidelines of the farewell ceremony for the athletes at the National Sports Council (KONI) office in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

Leaving for Sydney on Sunday were 19 shuttlers, four swimmers, three divers, two judokas, two tennis players, two table tennis players and one taekwondoin. They were accompanied by 19 coaches and officials.

The first batch of athletes, officials and coaches departed on Sept. 1, followed by a second batch on Sept. 5.

The group on Sunday left aboard a Garuda Indonesia flight departing at 6:30 p.m. from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. They had a 45-minute stopover at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar before continuing on to Sydney, which is an eight-hour flight.

Arie also expected athletes would not allow themselves to be provoked by any taunting over the situation in East Timor.

"They must maintain their composure and keep a smile. We must not mix sports with politics. Remember friendship is more important than everything, including medals," said Arie, who is also KONI vice chairman.

"President Abdurrahman Wahid also asked our athletes to take good care of the image and dignity of our country," he said.

KONI chairman Wismoyo Arismunandar urged the athletes to go all out in representing Indonesia. "I ask athletes to give their best, to their last drop of sweat, for the country."

"It will be a blessing for our crises-ridden country if the athletes can equal our achievements at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games with less preparation," he added.

Indonesia won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals -- all in badminton -- at the Atlanta Olympics.

This year, Indonesia has set a target of two gold medals in the men's singles and doubles badminton events. (nvn)