Indonesia moves 2013 Islamic games

Indonesia moves 2013 Islamic games

JAKARTA - Agence France-Presse
Indonesia moves 2013 Islamic games

Indonesian supporters light flares during a friendly football match against the Netherlands in Jakarta in this file photo from June 7, 2013. REUTERS photo

Indonesia has moved the venue for the Islamic Solidarity Games for a second time, an official said on Aug. 1, this time to a city that co-hosted the ill-fated 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

It is the latest twist in the country’s efforts to host the games, which have been delayed by months and hit by a strike of construction workers.

The event, which brings together athletes from member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, was originally scheduled to be held in April at Pekanbaru on Sumatra island. But it was postponed after construction workers shut down the main stadium in protest at unpaid salaries, and the local governor could do little to help as he was caught up in corruption scandals.

Officials then announced the games would instead be held in the capital Jakarta from September 22 to October 1.

But with less than two months to go, the event has been moved yet again -- this time to Palembang, a city on Sumatra that was co-host with Jakarta of the Southeast Asian Games in November 2011.

The dates would remain unchanged, the official from the event’s organising committee, Hifni Hasan, told AFP.

Hasan said some officials on Sumatra were disappointed by the decision to move the games to Jakarta, and Palembang was well-equipped to host a major sports event.

“They felt they had worked hard to prepare for the games and were disappointed it was moved to Jakarta.”

But holding the event in Palembang could revive bad memories of the Southeast Asian Games.

Organization woes

The run-up to the games was overshadowed by graft allegations, delayed construction and poor planning.

During the event itself two people were killed in a stampede at the football final.

Hasan tried to put concerns over the Islamic games to rest, insisting that “it’s quite unlikely the venue will be changed again” since a presidential decree had been signed naming Palembang as the host.

“Palembang is ready and well-equipped to hold the games,” he said. More than 2,000 athletes from 38 countries had so far confirmed their attendance, he added. Events include football, badminton and archery.