Tue, 23 May 2000

National Games to go on schedule: Official

JAKARTA (JP): Secretary General of the National Sports Council (KONI) Rudolf S. Warouw confirmed on Monday that the 15th National Games (PON) will go on as originally scheduled, from June 19 to June 30 in Surabaya.

Warouw was commenting on earlier reports saying that PON would be delayed after President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was expected to inaugurate the quadrennial event, returned from his overseas trip to the United States, Egypt and Russia on June 23.

"After weighing the pros and cons of delaying the event, the organizer decided to go ahead with PON as scheduled on June 19. But we have asked the President to appoint an official to inaugurate PON," he said.

He added that a delay would burden the organizer financially, and would weaken the athletes' motivation to compete in the event.

"There will be difficulty in making reservations at local hotels because they will be heavily occupied after July 1. A delay will also be demoralizing to the athletes because they have been preparing for PON for over four years," he said.

He also said that the organizer would have no objection if the President appointed a state official to inaugurate PON.

Kompas daily quoted Secretary of Government Supervision Bondan Gunawan as saying on Saturday that it was the organizer who asked for a delay and not the President.

He confirmed that the PON organizing committee, which is based in Surabaya, sent a letter asking the President to open the multisports event on June 19, but he turned down the offer because of his trip overseas.

"The President said, 'If you would like me to inaugurate the event please adjust it to my schedule'," Bondan quoted the President as saying.

Spokesman for the organizing committee, Suparwoto, stated on Saturday that the delay would sharply increase their spending up to Rp 7 billion (US$875,000).

He said the increase would result from additional accommodation and meal fees, along with competition and transportation subsidies. He added that the organizer has had to pay for the contingents staying in East Java since June 17.

Suparwoto has asked the central government to cover the deficit because they have no fund reserve to pay for it. (ivy)