Wed, 21 Jun 2000

No fake tickets on sale, PON chief Imam Utomo says

SURABAYA (JP): Chairman of the organizing committee of the 15th National Games (PON) Imam Utomo denied reports that fake tickets were sold during the opening ceremony of PON on Monday.

Imam said it was ticketholders who could not get in the Delta stadium at Sidoarjo, some 20-kilometers south of here, who sparked the rumor.

"There were no fake tickets. But there were some people who became violent because they were so enthusiastic about seeing the opening ceremony. I provided 1,500 empty seats at the top of the stage but nobody wanted to sit there," he said on Tuesday.

The incident took place when thousands of people could not get in the full 35,000-seat stadium for the ceremony. The crowd turned violent and threw bottles and stones at the open stage in the southern sector just a few minutes before Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri and her entourage walked on the VIP platform to officially inaugurate PON.

Fake tickets were blamed as the main cause of the incident. PON's spokesman Suprawoto explained on Monday evening that some ticketholders were not allowed into the stadium as it had reached its maximum capacity, and they became angry.

The tickets were sold for Rp 10,000 (US$1.16) each.

Reports said there were no serious injuries but the mob attacked gates, kiosks, shops and parked cars outside the stadium.

East Java Police chief Maj. Gen. Da'i Bachtiar confirmed on Tuesday that nobody was arrested after the incident.

"We just questioned some people because they were seen pushing people against the gates," he said, adding that some had tickets.

"We asked the spectators in the stage area to move up to the empty seats, but they had been waiting for quite a long time in front of the gates, so they refused to move. They were angry and started to push the gates," he said.

However, he was satisfied with the security during the ceremony. "I am very grateful that we could maintain a safe environment and there was not a big disturbance."

Da'i said there were 7,000 security guards -- from the police, Indonesian Military and the political party -- deployed to secure the opening ceremony.

He suggested the organizers reduce the number of tickets for the closing ceremony to avoid overcrowding.

"I've asked them to reduce ticket sales for the closing ceremony so there will not be a major turnout. We have to be strict because President Abdurrahman Wahid will close the sports event." (ivy)