Sun, 18 Jun 2000

PON torches arrive from 26 provinces

SURABAYA (JP): Torches for the 15th National Games (PON) arrived here on Saturday from 26 provinces across the nation.

The torches are being kept in the Grahadi building on Jl. Gubernur Suryo, and will be taken on Sunday evening to the Sidoarjo regency, where PON will be opened on Monday by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

PON's executive chairman, Imam Soepardi, accepted the torches presented by 26 contingents, including East Java. Imam replaced East Java governor and PON chairman Imam Utomo, who failed to show up as he was attending a hearing with the city council on Saturday.

PON's official in charge of the torch route, Col. Moh. Mansyur said that Imam Utomo will see the torches off to Sidoarjo on Sunday evening.

"The torches will be taken by 27 runners. Twenty-six of them will carry the torches that represent the 26 provinces, while the 27th runner will carry the main torch. The runners comprise students, members of social organizations and the Indonesian Military," said Mansyur, who is a marine officer.

He said the torches would pass through 15 relays, which are two kilometers long each. "The runners are changed at the end of each relay," he added.

The torches will be handed over to the Sidoarjo regent and be kept at Pendopo (hall) Sidoarjo, he said.

On Monday, 27 runners, who are alumni of the Academy of Home Affairs Administration, which includes village and districts chiefs, will carry the torches to the Delta Stadium gates.

"At the gates, 27 former national and international athletes representing their provinces will take over the torch relay. They will circumambulate the stadium once and then take the torches to the cauldron," he said.

He named former national shuttler and men's singles gold medalist in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona Alan Budikusumah as the runner who will carry the main torch and light the cauldron.

"The other runners include former Asian fastest man Mardi Lestari representing North Sumatra, former national boxer Benny Maniani of Papua, former walker Saido of Southeast Sulawesi and former national shuttler Icuk Sugiarto of Jakarta," he said.

Imam said that five out of 31 PON events required tickets to enter the venues to stop fanatic supporters, popularly known here as bonek, from crowding the events.

"The five events are soccer, boxing, badminton, volleyball and basketball. It will be dangerous if they don't use tickets. The other events are free of charge," he said.

He said that a giant screen would be set outside Delta stadium during the opening to anticipate spectators that would not be able to get in.

-- Ivy Susanti