JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia will bid to host the 2032 Olympics following the success of the Asian Games held there over the past two weeks, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in a surprise announcement Saturday that highlights the rising ambition of the giant but long underperforming Southeast Asian nation.
Jokowi, who is campaigning for a second term, made the announcement at a meeting in Bogor with the presidents of the International Olympic Committee and the Asian Olympic Committee.
“With the experience we have in organizing the 18th Asian Games, we are sure Indonesia can also host a bigger event,” Jokowi said in a statement after the meeting.
IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the candidacy of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, saying that the Asian Games provided a “strong foundation” for the country’s 2032 bid.
He said Indonesia has shown that it has all the ingredients to hold the Olympics successfully.
“You see that Indonesia is on the move. And you see the enthusiasm of the people,” Bach told The Associated Press. “It’s a very young country. This of course also makes it very interesting for the IOC.”
Indonesia, which has never bid for an Olympics, has earned 32 medals, all at the Summer Games, all since 1988, and all in archery, badminton and weightlifting.
About 12,000 athletes from 45 nations and territories as well as several thousand officials and journalists took part in the Asian Games, which end Saturday. As host, Indonesia provided a spectacular opening ceremony and also exceeded its own expectations in winning 30 golds, placing fourth on the medal table.
Indonesia, projected to be among the world’s 10 biggest economies by 2030, used the games to shift perceptions that it’s in the “too hard” basket, paving the way for a tilt at even bigger sports hosting baubles.
The country’s hosting of the Asian Games without major organizational hitches has been a boost for Jokowi as he heads to elections in April. With the 2032 bid announcement, he gets to extend the shelf life of the Asian Games afterglow.
Bach said the formal selection process for 2032 hasn’t begun, but Germany and India have also expressed interest.
“And we have heard from other continents and other cities,” he said. “Given that the decision will most likely be taken in 2025, you can understand that we are already very happy at this stage to have such an interest.”
Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Paris and Los Angeles have already been selected to host the following two Games, in 2024 and 2028, respectively.
Massive problems with the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, a developing country with endemic corruption, may count against Indonesia’s chances. It cost Brazil about $20 billion to host the Olympics, a bill that is likely to raise objections in Indonesia, where poverty remains widespread.
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