The House Commission X overseeing education, sports, tourism and the creative economy asked the government to postpone the Games because of the coronavirus. The chairman of the commission, Syaiful Huda, said the Games could be delayed until 2021.“There are many sporting events at the regional and international levels that have been postponed due to COVID-19, like the Tokyo Olympics and the Euro Cup. So there’s nothing wrong with postponing the PON to 2021,” Syaiful said as quoted by tempo.co.Syaiful, a National Awakening Party (PAN) politician, also said that the current circumstances were not conducive to the construction of several unfinished sporting venues in the host province.“Based on the latest information, there are still several venues that aren’t ready yet, so their development needs to be sped up,” Syaiful said. “If the airports and ports are closed, this means construction materials can’t be transported to Papua, which disrupts the building process.”The Papua administration began closing airports and ports across its 29 cities and regencies in March 26 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some local leaders have asked for the Health Ministry’s permission to impose large-scale social restrictions in their respective regions.Papua Governor Lukas Enembe sent a letter to President Jokowi earlier this week asking to reconsider the timeline of the Games, saying the disease had affected preparations for the quadrennial event, kompas.com reported.In his letter dated April 7, Lukas reported that while 85 to 90 percent of the venues were ready, he was worried the remaining tasks would be disrupted in the coming months due to a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region.As of midday on Thursday, the official government tally of confirmed infections in Papua was 38 with two deaths.Minister Zainudin said the decision of whether to postpone the Games could go either way.“Right now, the regional administration is focusing its efforts on containing the spread of COVID-19,” he said, explaining that a deadline on making a decision would be determined after consulting the President.The ministry had yet to tally up the costs it would bear should Jokowi decide to postpone the Games to 2021, Zainudin said, and it was already dealing with a very busy schedule next year, with at least six international events to prepare for.The ministry allocated Rp 500 billion (US$30.7 million) of its Rp 1.7 trillion budget for PON preparations. It is currently reallocating funds to assist with the government’s COVID-19 response.Topics : “We are currently looking into the input from various sides, including the House of Representatives Commission X,” Zainudin said in a teleconference on Tuesday.“The main thing that we are considering is how long the pandemic might last.”COVID-19, classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, has entered more than 200 countries worldwide, infecting more than 1.4 million people and causing over 80,000 deaths. It has had a particularly devastating effect on the sporting world, causing big events such as the 2020 Olympics Games and the Wimbledon Grand Slam to be postponed.In Indonesia, most sporting events have been canceled or pushed back, including soccer and basketball leagues. The fate of the first-ever National Games (PON) to be held in Indonesia’s easternmost province this year hangs in the balance, as it appears likely that the PON will become the latest major sporting event to be adversely affected by COVID-19.Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said his office was scrutinizing every aspect of the Games ahead of a planned consultation meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, emphasizing that only the leader could determine whether or not it will run as planned.The Games, to be held in Papua for the first time ever, are scheduled to run from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2, with athletes from across the country to compete in 37 sports in Jayapura city and Jayapura, Mimika and Merauke regencies.
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