Friday, July 20, 2018


Jakarta, July 20, 2018 (Antara) - Several Indonesians are enthusiastically welcoming the 18th Asian Games torch relay touring 53 cities and districts in 18 Indonesian provinces, covering a total distance of over 18 thousand kilometers.
              The torch relay of the largest multi-sport event, held every four years in Asia, began from Yogyakarta on July 18 and will end on Aug 17 in Jakarta, a day before the Asian Games 2018 to be officially opened by President Joko Widodo.
              The torch relay will pass through Solo, Central Java Province; Blitar, Malang, Probolinggo, and Banyuwangi in East Java; Gilimanuk, Kuta, and Denpasar in Bali Province; Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara; Raja Ampat and Sorong in West Papua; Makassar in South Sulawesi; Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan; Banda Aceh in Aceh Province; Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Pekanbaru in Riau; Bukit Tinggi in West Sumatra; Jambi, Palembang, Banyuasin, and Prabumulih in South Sumatra; Bandar Lampung in Lampung; Serang in Banten; and Purwakarta, Bandung, Garut, Cianjur, and Bogor in West Java Province, among others.
              For Indonesia, the Asian Games is not merely a sporting event but also a huge international gathering that offers a rare opportunity to promote its tourism. Hence, most of the cities and districts, such as Raja Ampat, Banyuwangi, and Lake Toba, to be covered as part of the torch relay, are major tourist destinations.
              Yogyakarta, the start of the torch relay, is known as a city of cultural, historical, educational, and tourism attractions, which is home to the largest Javanese sultanate and ancient Hindu temple, Prambanan.

              Erick Thohir, chairman of the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (Inasgoc), has stated that selecting the right city as the starting point for the Asian Games torch relay is important, as the Asian Games is not solely a sporting event but is also a platform to promote Indonesia's tourism and image to the global audience.  
         "Yogyakara is a historic city, and we want to also promote its tourism," Thohir had remarked on July 17, 2018, upon his arrival in Yogyakarta after receiving the torch in India.
              In fact, the 2018 Asian Games torch relay began its 18 thousand-kilometer journey on July 15, 2018, from the Major Dyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi, where the flame was lit for the first time at the inaugural edition in 1951.  
         In India, the flame was generated from a parabolic mirror directed straight at the sun.
              On the evening of July 18, the flame from India was merged with the eternal flame from Mrapen at the Pramanan Temple.
              The merging of the two flames was officiated by Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla, who later said that Indonesia was honored to be the host of the 18th Asian Games.
              "After over 50 years, Indonesia now has another opportunity to host the Asian Games. This is an honor for the Indonesian nation," Kalla remarked.
              Indonesia had hosted the Asian Games for the first time in 1962.
              Indonesia is also viewed as being able to organize international sporting events and provide the necessary infrastructure facilities, he stated.
              Kalla expressed hope that Indonesian athletes competing in the Asian Games 2018 would deliver better results.
              "Organizational capability, infrastructure development, and achievements, God Willing, are the three crucial aspects," he added.
              On the morning of July 19, the torch relay in Yogyakarta started from the Yogyakarta Palace, with Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, as the first bearer of the torch, who ran for 100 meters.  
         Thousands of elementary school students in Yogyakarta enthusiastically witnessed the Asian Games torch relay.
              "I am happy to be asked to welcome the Asian Games torch," Raihan, 11, a student of Jetis elementary school, stated while lining up a road covered during the torch relay.
              The torch relay involves at least 40 Indonesian sports legends, high-ranking officials, and celebrities, such as badminton legend Susi Susanti, who had visited New Delhi on July 14-16 to pick up the torch, and another badminton legend Taufik Hidayat along with other legendary athletes: Budi Hartono, Yustedjo Tarik, Yayuk Basuki, Herman Sembalo, Dian Sastrowardjoyo, and Rochy Putiray.
              The 18th Asian Games will be held from Aug 18 to Sept 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra. It is the first time that two cities are co-hosting the Games, making it a more challenging task for the organizers.
              A total of 16,920 athletes and officials from 45 Asian countries have been registered for the Games. Overall, more than 11 thousand athletes will vie for medals in 40 sports and 67 disciplines. 
         As the host, Indonesia is optimistic of clinching at least 10 gold medals, in badminton, martial arts, and athletics, among others, and being included in the top 10 of the medal's tally. 

(T.F001/A/BESSR/O. Tamindael) 20-07-2018 14:03:50

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