Indonesia bid an emotional farewell to the 18th Asian Games, displaying the same gritty spirit with which it organised the 15-day sporting extravaganza as thousands braved heavy rain to turn up for a spectacular closing ceremony.
The 76,000 capacity Gelora Bung Karno stadium did not attract many people when the track and field events were on but they made a beeline to watch the two-hour long closing ceremony that was high on entertainment. Indonesia’s love for Bollywood was also on full display as singer Siddharth Slathia and Denada sang popular numbers ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hain’ and ‘Jai Ho’.
As expected, the closing ceremony was not as spectacular as the opening when Indonesian President Joko Widodo made headlines with his bike stunt to enter the venue. But it was fun nonetheless with a heady mix of song, dance and fireworks. Widodo’s video message to his countrymen and the entire Asian continent also added to the excitement.
For the organisers, it was the end of an intense and successful campaign, having got four years to prepare for the second biggest multi-sporting event in the world following Vietnam’s withdrawal. Having two cities — Jakarta and Palembang — as co-hosts was a first in Games’ history, making the herculean task all the more challenging. Hosting more than 11,000 athletes from 45 countries across two contrasting cities was no mean feat but a determined Indonesia pulled it off, overcoming the triple threat posed by terrorism, crime and its notorious traffic.
“Everyone supported, that’s the key. The whole of Indonesia became one and supported the Games. We had a plan since March, 2016. As an organisation we made sure we implemented that plan. We also got the best Indonesian talent to support the Games. Did everything work? Not 100 percent. But we tried to solve the issues and did not run away from them,” said Erick Thohir, chief of organizing committee INASGOC.
The successful staging of the Games, happening for the first time in Indonesia since 1962, has also given the country the confidence to bid for the 2032 Olympics. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who was at the VIP area alongside OCA chief Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and Indonesian Vice-President, has also given a thumbs up to the country’s Olympic bid.