Asia-Pacific

Indonesia beefs up security ahead of Asia Games

Indonesian police officers line up during a drill at the National Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 December 2017. Source: EPA

It comes after suicide bombings claimed the lives of over 30 people in the city of Surabaya in May

Indonesian authorities will provide tight security for the nearly 17,000 athletes and officials who will take part in next month's Asia Games, according to the event’s chief organiser.

Erick Thohir, an Indonesian businessman who is also chair of Italian football club Inter Milan, said some 100,000 army and police personnel would guard the multi-sport event. Facial recognition software will be in place at some venues, he added.

"We're also making sure countries who do not have good relations with each other are not staying at the same hotel," Mr Thohir said.

Security concerns for the event increased after suicide bombings claimed by IS killed more than 30 people in the country’s second-biggest city of Surabaya in May.

The 2018 Asian Games will feature athletes and officials from 45 nations and runs from August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang.

Jakarta is planning to conduct raids at various entertainment centres in the capital as part of its effort to crack down on crime before the Games, tempo.co reports.

"We have to enforce the law if there are violations," Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno was quoted as saying.

Indonesian police outside a police station in Surabaya.
Security concerns increased after suicide bombings claimed by IS killed more than 30 people in the country’s second-biggest city of Surabaya in May.
Getty

Police in the city of Tangerang, the area set to host the pentathlon event, have also formed a task force to arrest a series of recent street crimes, according to The Jakarta Post. Officers have also been given English lessons.

Indonesia was cleared by the Olympic Council of Asia to host the Games following an inspection of facilities in January, despite initial concerns infrastructure may not be ready before August.

More challenges surfaced during a warm-up event held a month later, with the ability of athletes and fans to travel freely through Jakarta’s traffic-clogged streets proving a difficult task.

“From the invitation tournament, we have had good feedback about the food, athletes’ villages. Complaints still come from the traffic,” Mr Thohir said.

There have suggestions to close schools near venues to curb traffic and set aside toll roads and bus lane for special use.

Authorities admit people attending the Asian Games could face high levels of traffic.
Authorities admit people attending the Asian Games could face high levels of traffic.
AP

The 2018 Asian Games will see a 20 per cent increase in participation compared to the 2014 Incheon Games.

North and South Korea will field joint teams in six events across three sports at this year's Asian Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had both been invited to attend, Thohir said.

- additional reporting by Reuters.

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