Japanese Prefecture targets 2026 Asian Games, as Jakarta Governor questions 2018 role

Japan’s Aichi Prefecture has said it will bid to host the 2026 Asian Games, as Jakarta’s Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has raised question marks over the Indonesian capital’s status as the main hub of the 2018 edition of the multi-sport event.

Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said today (Monday) that the city of Nagoya would be the main venue for the bid. The Aichi Prefectural Government is planning to put together a bid plan later this year and submit an application to the Japanese Olympic Committee to host the 2026 Games. “As it is a big event, we should first clarify the situation,” Omura said, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.

Omura said he wants to use the Asian Games as a showcase for Japan’s magnetically levitated train technology. Central Japan Railway plans to commence Japan’s first maglev service between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027. Omura said he may request that the Games be delayed by one year to take advantage of this launch.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is set to decide on a host for the 2026 Games around 2018. Japan has hosted the event on two previous occasions, with Tokyo staging in 1958 and Hiroshima in 1994.

The South Korean city of Incheon hosted the most recent edition of the Asian Games in 2014. The OCA signed off on the host city contract for 2018’s 18th Asian Games in September 2014, with Jakarta set to be supported by Palembang, capital of South Sumatra. The event was originally scheduled to take place in 2019, but has been brought forward due to the Indonesian presidential election taking place in the same year.

The Vietnamese city of Hanoi was originally awarded the Games in November 2012 ahead of the Indonesian city of Surabaya, but Vietnam pulled out earlier in 2014 after estimating that the event could cost between $150m (€138.4m) and $500m to stage.

However, a land dispute has now cast doubt over Jakarta’s participation, with Governor Basuki suggesting that funds for the development of athlete accommodation at a site in the capital would be better directed towards a light rail transit project, adding that it would perhaps be better for Palembang to host the Games in its entirety.

The TodayOnline.com website said City Hall has suggested the budget allocation would be better diverted to the construction of LRT Corridor 1, connecting Kelapa Gading to Kebayoran Lama. “If the land is not given, it’s not my fault and I’m not angry,” Basuki said.

Palembang would be better suited to host the entire event as it would boost the local economy, Basuki added. “Jakarta is already too big for the Asian Games,” he said. However, the OCA has stated the Sumatran city is not “fully ready” for such a role.