Fri, 25 Feb 2000

Palembang wins race to host 2004 PON

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid finally gave a green light to Palembang to host the 2004 National Games (PON). It will be the first PON to be staged outside Java island in the last 30 years.

"The President approves South Sumatra capital of Palembang as the host. Palembang won the voting election in the National Sports Council (KONI) plenary meeting last week," said KONI chairman, Wismoyo Arismunandar, Wednesday.

Palembang beat Semarang, Central Java capital, after winning 33 of 61 votes in the election. Semarang only took 23 votes.

Wismoyo said the President has also approved to officially open PON in Surabaya from June 19 to June 30.

PON organizing committee chairman, Imam Oetomo, also reported East Java's preparation to host PON to the president.

Imam, who is also East Java governor, said fund raising for the event would not burden the public.

KONI secretary general, Rudolf S Warouw, said that in the closing ceremony of this year's PON, KONI would hand over the PON flag to the next host mayor of Palembang.

"It's a new ceremony in PON and we imitate the Olympics or Asian Games or Southeast Asian Games," he said.

KONI's Central Java chapter official in charge of athletes development, Deddy Kurniawan Wikanta, said Semarang would support the President's decision on the next PON host.

"We'll give a morale boost to Palembang to host its first multi-sports event for the sake of the nation's unity," he was quoted by Antara as saying in Semarang Wednesday evening.

Deddy said Semarang was not disappointed with the decision. He said he had predicted the loss when Wismoyo indicated that some place outside Java was expected to be the next host.

State minister of youth affairs and sports, Mahadi Sinambela, also said that the 1999 PON should be the last to be hosted in Java.

KONI's Central Java chapter chairman, Djoko Sudantoko, urged the government to prepare a sports law to guarantee athletes' welfare in their old age.

"We have presented our idea in a draft law to KONI. Hopefully, it can be realized soon," he said.

Indonesia has yet to have a sports law despite the fact that some athletes have contributed international achievements to the country.

"Ironically, the government has not been able to provide a good future for athletes who are fighting abroad in the country's name," he said.

Warouw said KONI has submitted the draft sports law to the office of state minister of youth affairs and sports.

"We don't know the progress on the draft. We submitted the draft years ago but with the new government we will try to submit another one. It's a bit confusing with four secretaries to president," he said. (har/prb/yan)