OCA upbeat on Indonesia’s Asian Games preparations as hosting contract revised

The 2018 Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have signed off on a revised hosting contract for next year’s edition of the multi-sport showpiece, with the latter body expressing its confidence in Indonesia’s preparations for the Games.

In March, the OCA had said Indonesia faced “huge” challenges in its preparations for the event, which is to be co-hosted by capital Jakarta and the city of Palembang. With Indonesia having only been awarded the Games in 2014 after the original host, Vietnam, withdrew, organisers have faced a shortened time frame to deliver the event.

The Games are due to take place from August 18 to September 2, with around 10,000 athletes from 45 countries set to compete. Infrastructure development and sponsorship deals have proved especially challenging for INASGOC, but the Indonesian government and OCA have agreed on several amendments to the hosting contract, including changes to the use of sponsor funds from local and foreign companies.

“We have signed several amendments to the contract to host the Asian Games 2018,” Indonesia’s Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla, said, according to Indonesian news agency Antara. “In principle, the amendments are aimed at ensuring the smooth organisation of the Asian Games, improving the quality of competitions and clarifying each other's responsibilities.”

According to INASGOC, the new contract will allow for more flexibility for the dispersal of sponsorship funds. In the previous contract, sponsorship revenue, which is split 50-50 between the OCA and INASGOC, could only be released one day after the opening ceremony on August 18.

INASGOC chairman Erick Thohir said the new hosting contract will provide financial relief for organisers, who are continuing to seek additional funding from outside the state budget. Thohir (pictured) said in a statement: “As we know, from the budget available today, there is only Rp4.5tn (€283.2m/$337.5m), while the need is for Rp5.6tn. There is a 'gap' or lack of Rp1.1tn. With this contract change, God willing this will help cashflow for us as the organiser.”

Following the latest round of meetings between the two parties, OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah sounded a more optimistic note on Indonesia’s preparations. “We are moving in the right direction for the Games,” he told the AFP news agency after meeting Indonesian President Joko Widodo. “I feel more comfortable that the Games is going in the right way.”