Former Olympic gold medalist and chairman of the 2012 London Olympics Sebastian Coe says Indonesia's hosting of the 2018 Asian Games is a moment to establish lasting economic and social legacies.
"I had very good discussions this morning with the National Olympic Committee of Indonesia [KOI]. We talked about the challenges. We talked about the huge opportunity to help engage young people, particularly in sports and to create social and economic legacies for the games," Coe announced on Wednesday. He was accompanied by KOI chairwoman Rita Subowo.
"There is the need to deliver the games in a partnership that gives confidence to the local community and potential sponsors. We talked about the difference the games would create for many years to come. That's the legacy," he said.
Coe won two gold medals in the 1,500 meters, one each at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, an achievement that later got him knighted by the British government. He headed the successful London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and became chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOGOC). In 2007, he was elected a vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and was reelected in 2011 for another four-year term.
Coe and his entourage are in Jakarta to attend the Asian Athletics Association Congress and the National Olympic Committee of Indonesia (KOI) saw it as an opportunity to invite him to the KOI office to pick his brain.
During the meet-and-greet, Coe was introduced to several Indonesian athletes who also participated in the 1984 Olympics. Among them were shooter Selviana Sofyan Hosen and runner Emma Tahapary. Emma's 400m national record of 54.3 seconds still stands.
Coe, who is currently running for the IAAF presidency against former pole vault star Sergey Bubka of Ukraine, pointed out the need to centralize the needs of athletes in the planning for the games.
"When delivering a major games or sporting event, remember the most important thing is that we need always to be concerned about the [athletes'] ability to perform at their best level, as well as their welfare.
"If we get right to the athletes, we actually get a large part of the project," he said.
Indonesia was appointed host of the 18th edition of the Asian Games at an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) executive board meeting last September. The meeting took place on the sidelines of 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Indonesia replaced Hanoi, Vietnam, which backed out due to financial difficulties.
"I understand the timeframe is tight but I'm convinced you will stage a great games. I'm convinced you have great local partnerships and the right vision. And it's very important to keep locals on board," Coe said.
"I know you have a lot of work to do, but I'm sure you will be successful."
The London Olympics were reportedly a commercial success, but Coe cautioned against measuring the success of the Asian Games on purely commercial terms.
"You want to be commercially successful but you also want the games to inspire young people," he said.
The games are scheduled to run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta. Some sporting events will be hosted in Palembang in South Sumatra, West Java and Banten.
Rita praised Coe's successful leadership of the London Olympics.
"The London Olympics created a great legacy with new towns like East London. We are willing to work together in preparing the games in three years," she said. "We are also excited to develop athletes and we need to look at how London handles this."