08/18/2018, 11.56
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18th Asian Games open in Jakarta and Palembang

by Mathias Hariyadi

The Indonesian president Joko Widodo officiates the opening ceremony at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium today, in the presence of over 35 thousand spectators. The preparations and the modernization of infrastructure required 16 months of work and a cost of about 461million euros. The archbishops of the two cities invite Catholics to show strong support for the sporting event: "We will be exemplary hosts". The collaboration between the two Koreas.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The 18th edition of the Asian Games opens today, scheduled in Jakarta and Palembang (province of South Sumatera) between August 18th and September 2nd. Coming from 45 countries, 11 thousand athletes will compete in 40 different disciplines, which for the first time in the history of the event will include electronic sports and canoeing polo.

This evening, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (photo 1) will officiate the opening ceremony at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, in the heart of the capital, with over 35 thousand spectators. Anies Baswedan, governor of Jakarta, declares that "the city is ready to host the event". Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister of Infrastructures and Housing, says that the preparations and the modernization of the sports facilities required 16 months of work and a cost of about 7 thousand billion rupees (461 million euros).

Gen. Tito Karnavian, head of the national police, announced that the security of the participants in the Asian Games will be guaranteed by 8 thousand agents, assisted by the army personnel. To facilitate the movement of athletes and officials, the city authorities have closed various arteries to traffic and ordered the suspension of classes for dozens of schools.

The Indonesian Catholic Church is also ready to make its contribution. Msgr. Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo (photo 2) and Msgr. Aloysius Sudarso, Archbishops of Jakarta and Palembang, invite Catholics to show strong support for the sporting event. Last May in Palembang, thousands of faithful took part in the presentation of the event with the provincial governor Alex Noerdin. Msgr. Sudarso was joined by dozens of priests, nuns, religious and important local Catholic figures. The archbishop reiterated that the community "will be an exemplary host".

Priests with proficiency in foreign languages ​said they were ready to celebrate Mass in English in some churches in the city. The Asian Games are a multicultural event followed by people belonging to different religious contexts. "We hope this is the right time to convey a message of unity", says Msgr. Sudarso.

This edition of the Asian Games is also an opportunity to strengthen the dialogues between South Korea and North Korea. In the opening ceremony, the athletes of the two countries will parade together under the flag of Korean unification; in the coming days, they will participate with joint teams in three competitions: dragon boat, women's basketball and rowing. In recent weeks, the hypothesis of a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Northern leader Kim Jong-un was rumored. The two are not expected in Jakarta, however they will meet in Pyongyang next month.

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