Friday, September 04, 2009

Indonesia Faces Olympic Sanctions

The battle between the Ministry Youth and Sports Affairs and the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) over athletes' training might result in Indonesia being suspended from international competitions.

Last year, the sports ministry launched the Top-tier Athletes Program; while looking to prepare athletes for multi-event sporting showcases, the program is regarded as government intervention in the role that used to be exclusively KONI's.

The alleged intervention has prompted a warning from the International Olympic Council (IOC) and Olympics Council of Asia (OCA) that KONI's international membership might be suspended, KONI chairwoman Rita Subowo said at a meeting in Jakarta on Thursday. "I'm a member of the IOC. So far, I have been able to lobby the council against making a decision unfavourable to us.

"But, the council has a time limit, we really need to act *on the warning*," Rita said.

The meeting, to garner national support for the 2012 Olympic Games, included representatives from KONI's provincial chapters and sports organizations, but Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Adhyaksa Dault and Home Minister Mardiyanto failed to attend.

It appeared the warning stemmed from the issuance of a government regulation which barred government officials from taking up sport posts.

A IOC/OCA delegation, which visited Indonesia in 2007, found the regulation violated the Olympic Charter, Firmansyah Gindo, a KONI official, said.

The sports minister's impulsive statement that KONI might as well be disbanded due to the poor showing of Indonesian sporting delegations in international competitions was also seen as another form of intervention.

"At that time *early 2007*, there was discussion on KONI's possible dismissal, enough to make the *IOC/OCA* delegates come to see what was going on," Rita said.

The delegates urged the minister to follow the Olympic Charter, which promotes no government intervention and no discrimination toward anyone doing sports.