Fri, 04 May 2001

No Olympic bid for silat, official says

JAKARTA (JP): The International Pencak Silat Federation (Persilat) refuted reports that it would bid to have the Indonesian martial art included in the Olympic Games.

The federation insisted it was concentrating all its efforts on having pencak silat featured as an exhibition sport at the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea.

"We have never made a bid (for the Olympics) because our priority is to ensure the sport is featured at the Pusan Asiad. I have no idea why Megat Zulkarnain (the secretary-general of the Malaysian Pencak Silat Federation) made that statement," Persilat secretary-general Oyong Karmayudha said on Thursday.

"I have not contacted Megat but his statement was incorrect, because every initiative has to go through me as Persilat's secretary-general."

Utusan Malaysia quoted Megat as saying on Wednesday that Persilat had received a positive response from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) about the sport being included in the Olympics.

"We submitted a letter to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch on March 26 saying Persilat hopes the sport can be included in the Olympics, and the response was good," Megat was quoted as saying.

Oyong said Persilat's country members did not have the authority to contact the IOC on their own, and any such initiative had to go through Persilat as pencak silat's world governing body and international federation.

"Besides, in his proposal Megat said Persilat has 83 country members while in fact we only have some 40 members."

The chance of pencak silat being staged as an exhibition sport at the Pusan Asiad appears to be slim, with the Pusan Asian Games Organizing Committee (PAGOC) having already thrown out an earlier agreement to include the sport.

"We recently received a letter from the PAGOC saying it was not possible to stage pencak silat because there were no funds to cover the expenses, although we submitted a proposal saying Persilat would provide the funds.

"The letter was signed by PAGOC's deputy secretary-general, who doesn't have any authority to make such a decision. It turns out that PAGOC's secretary-general who made the earlier commitment, Hahn Gi-bok, has resigned because of poor health," Oyong said.

"This forced us to approach PAGOC chairman Kim Un-yong, who is also the chairman of the South Korea Olympic Committee, to clarify the matter."

Oyong said it seemed that there had been some miscommunication between PAGOC officials concerning pencak silat's inclusion in the Asiad.

In another matter, Oyong expressed surprise that Malaysia had decided to include the women's 70 to 75 kilogram weightclass in the tarung (fighting) event at the Sept. 8 to Sept. 17 Southeast Asian Games, while eliminating the women's team arts event.

"I think Malaysia, as the host, is doing this to ensure its goal of taking eight of the 21 golds at stake." (nvn)