Olympics official visit boosts Indonesia's 2019 Asiad bid

Olympics official visit boosts Indonesia's 2019 Asiad bid
The Gelora Bung Karno stadium

JAKARTA - Indonesia appears to be the frontrunner to host the 2019 Asian Games after Vietnam pulled out, a regional Olympics official visiting the country's facilities indicated on Wednesday.

Indonesia, which built new sporting facilities in 2011 for the Southeast Asian Games, has been seen as a favourite since Vietnam announced last month that it was withdrawing as host for financial reasons.

"I don't think other competitors can offer better conditions than Indonesia for the time being," Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) honorary life vice-president Wei Jizhong told AFP during a five-day visit to assess whether the country's facilities would be up to hosting the Games, the world's second biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics.

Indonesia is one of three countries to show interest in holding the Games, which require hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.

A source from the Indonesian Olympics Committee (KOI) told AFP that Malaysia and Singapore had offered to jointly host the event and that Qatar had also made a bid.

Wei said Indonesia was well-equipped as it would be able to renovate existing facilities, rather than starting construction from scratch, in the short amount of time available.

"I think they can do it within two years," he said as he inspected an exhibition centre in Jakarta which he said could host up to seven sports.

KOI officials said last month, however, that they were prepared to build new facilities for the Games if required and that they would be "proud" to play host.

The city's cavernous Gelora Bung Karno sports complex - whose main stadium seats more than 80,000 people - would likely be the central venue.

Indonesian officials had earlier indicated that the Games would likely take place in the country's second biggest city, Surabaya, but Wei said Wednesday that Jakarta would be the most suitable.

Wei on Tuesday visited the Jakabaring sport complex on Sumatra island, one of the main venues of 2011 Southeast Asian Games, and is scheduled to visit Bandung city in West Java on Thursday to assess another venue.

OCA director general Husain Al Musallam has said that a final decision on the host country will be made on September 20 in Incheon, South Korea, where this year's Asiad will be held.

Vietnam beat off competition from Indonesia in 2012 to host the 2019 Asiad.

Indonesia has staged the Asian Games once before, in Jakarta in 1962.

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