Wed, 07 May 2003

Kempo meet awaits foreign participants

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Although a number of countries have decided to stay away citing security concerns, the organizers are still expecting foreign participants at the upcoming Indonesia Open Kempo tournament to be held in Bali in August, an official said on Tuesday.

The tournament, which is scheduled to run from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4, was initially referred to as the Asian Championships with nine countries on the participants' list.

"But the bombings in Bali (in October 2002) prompted most of the countries to call off their participation," committee chairman Rudy Budi Manoppo said during a press conference after meeting officials with the National Sports Council (KONI) here.

The nine countries originally scheduled are India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Vietnam.

Indonesia is now rated number two in the world after the 2002 World Championship in Paris where it won four gold medals to finish in second place behind Japan, the sport's country of origin.

Despite the withdrawal of the majority of the countries, the Indonesian Kempo Association (Perkemi), according to Rudy, has decided to let the show go on, and renaming the event, the Indonesia Open.

"We are still expecting foreign participants to come, not only those from Asia but also other countries in the world," Rudy said, adding that the committee had sent invitations to all 36 member countries of the World Shorinji Kempo Organization.

The committee expects around 250 foreign participants and 600 locals to turn up for the tournament.

For the locals, the tournament will also be used for national team selection ahead of the National Sports Championship (PON) in Palembang, South Sumatra in 2004 where 136 slots for Kempo will be on offer.

The 2003 Indonesia Open will also coincide with a congress to set up the new board of the association for the 2003-2007 term. Harry Triono is the current chairman of Perkemi.

Meanwhile, Timbul Thomas Lubis, who is the secretary-general of Perkemi, said the Association would make an effort to get Kempo recognized as a full medal sport in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

"The barrier so far has been that the number of federations in the region does not meet the requirements," he said.

With 10 nations grouped in the region, Kempo has official organizations only in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, while the SEA Games, which will next be held in Vietnam in December, requires at least five federations.

With the sport not in the SEA Games, said Timbul, Kempo faced obstacles to development in Indonesia.

"The people do not appear to be encouraged to take up Kempo. They are deterred by the fact that Kempo does not provide an opportunity to compete at a higher level such as the SEA Games or the Asian Games," Timbul said.