Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Silat fails to make Asian Games debut

JAKARTA (JP): With Doha being named to host the 2006 Asian Games, the Indonesian traditional martial art of pencak silat has seen its chance of being included in the quadrennial event crushed.

"This is truly very sad news for us; I may call it a day of mourning. It's impossible Doha will stage pencak silat as the sport is not popular among the Arabs," the chairman of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association, Eddie Nalapraya, said on Monday.

"It would be different if Kuala Lumpur was picked to host the 2006 Asiad. I'm sure Malaysia would be eager to put pencak silat on the list," he said.

Pencak silat's chances of being staged as an exhibition sport at the 2002 Pusan Asiad is also in jeopardy since Doha is unlikely to include pencak silat in the event.

"All we can do is lobby Doha's organizing committee to include pencak silat as an exhibition event so we can stage the sport in the 2010 Asiad.

"We can also start a campaign to introduce pencak silat in the Gulf countries. At least, they would then know what kind of sport it is," Eddie said.

Doha, the capital of Qatar, was chosen to host the 2006 Asiad during a meeting of Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) officials in Pusan, South Korea. Doha defeated perceived favorite Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and New Delhi.

AFP news agency reported on Sunday that OCA officials had decided to add squash and snooker to the list of sports to be included at the 2002 Pusan Asiad, leaving pencak silat out in the cold.

Pusan organizers agreed to increase the number of sports at the event to 37 on the condition that the extra expenses for facilities and added accommodations at the athletes village be paid for by the sports federations involved.

Eddie, who is also the president of the International Pencak Silat Federation, was speaking at a media conference for the 2000 Pencak Silat World Championship at the Pencak Silat Center in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta.

The championship will officially be opened by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Tuesday, and will end on Sunday.

There are 232 athletes and 87 officials from 21 countries registered for the event, which will feature 16 different weight classes in fighting events and six martial arts events.

"The number of participants is very good since we are still in a stage of crisis and the international media airs biased coverage of our security here, like those reports broadcast by CNN.

"By participating in the championship, I hope the athletes can tell their families back home that Indonesia is just fine," Eddie said. (nvn)