Security pledge: 100,000 police and soldiers deployed for Asian Games

Sports | 15 Aug 2018

Indonesia is deploying 100,000 police and soldiers to provide security for the Asian Games, the biggest event ever held in its terror attack-prone capital Jakarta.

The Games, which run until September 2, are being held in Jakarta, Palembang on the island of Sumatra, and in West Java. About 12,000 athletes, support staff and officials and 5,000 journalists are expected.

It's the second time Indonesia has hosted the Games. The first in 1962 was under the country's founding president Sukarno.

Competition in sports like men's basketball, football and handball have already started even before Saturday's opening ceremony.

Hong Kong's men's basketball team lost 90-80 to Qatar in their opening Group C game despite getting 21 points from Lau Tsz-lai.

Involving 5,000 performers, the opening ceremony will have a mythological theme, flying people and, indispensably in a country of dozens of active volcanoes, a mountain that erupts, according to organizing committee member and sports ministry secretary Gatot S. Dewa Broto.

The official website says the games will be "inaugurated through a colossal ceremony as a way to show the world that Indonesia is a big nation that is capable of hosting an international event."

The games are being held at what is domestically a trying time for Indonesia. An earthquake on the island of Lombok last week killed more than 430 people and the country is beginning what's expected to be eight months of presidential election campaigning that trades on religious and ethnic divides.

And despite a massive counter-terrorism crackdown since the 2002 Bali bombings, the past several years have seen increased activity by militants who have been reinvigorated by the extremism of the Islamic State group.

Militants have carried out deadly attacks across Indonesia, including in Jakarta. Their ideological leader was sentenced to death in June and police have arrested more than 280 suspected militants and killed 21 following suicide bombings in Surabaya in May.

The dispersion of venues is a particular challenge for security, requiring a huge number of personnel to manage everything from traffic to VIP security and terror threats, said Indonesia's deputy national police chief, Muhammad Syafruddin. "About three months ago we foiled a plot by a radical group who planned an attack during the games," Syafruddin said.

Indonesia had less time to prepare after the original host country, Vietnam, withdrew because of financial problems.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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