Wed, 24 May 2000

Megawati to inaugurate National Games in June

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid has appointed Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri to inaugurate the 15th National Games (PON) in Surabaya on June 19, State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahadi Sinambela said on Tuesday.

Mahadi said that Abdurrahman is scheduled to close the quadrennial event on June 30.

"The inauguration of PON by Ibu Megawati is a break from earlier tradition when the President lead the opening ceremony," he said after meeting Abdurrahman at Merdeka Palace. Chairman of the National Sports Council (KONI) Wismoyo Arismunandar, chief of the PON organizing committee Imam Oetomo and committee secretary Eddy Indrayana also attended the meeting.

Abdurrahman will be on an overseas trip to the United States, Egypt and Russia when the opening ceremony takes place. He will return on June 23.

Mahadi also said that Abdurrahman insisted that his trip would not affect the event and suggested that PON be staged on schedule.

"The most important thing is that PON go on smoothly. We considered efficiency and effectiveness, and we don't want to prolong the debate on who should open and close the event," he said.

Imam said that the announcement would reduce anxiety of all contingents who had booked hotels and flights.

He said that the sports event, staged in 10 cities in East Java, will cost Rp 61 billion (US$7.6 million), with funds allocated from East Java provincial revenue (Rp 35 billion) for four consecutive years and from state revenue (Rp 10 billion). The remaining Rp 5 billion will come from sponsors and contributions from contingents.

"The preparation so far is good and we have no financial problem," said Imam, who is also East Java Governor.

Eddy said that KONI officials would travel to Surabaya to inspect the preparations. He said that the dress rehearsal would take place from June 10 to June 12.

"We will make the closing ceremony full of festivity. We have asked noted contemporary choreographer Bagong Kussudiardja to help us. We are still discussing the program for the closing ceremony," he said on Tuesday. (ivy)