After PON, Riau Govt to Host Islamic Games

Despite growing criticism for its poor preparation in hosting the ongoing 2012 National Games, the Riau provincial government is aiming to host another sporting event, the Islamic Solidarity Games III, to be held next June.

The province is likely to build more sport venues for next year’s games, even as the National Games entered the second week in some venues that critics have called incomplete and unsafe.

“In our continued construction project, we need support from all parties. We have asked sponsors for that purpose. Should we fail, we would find alternatives [for funding],” Riau Governor Rusli Zainal told reporters in the provincial capital Pekanbaru on Saturday.

His remarks came shortly after he received a delegation of eight officials from the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF).

Rusli said major projects that would need to be undertaken include an aquatic center, as the available pools in the province don’t meet international standards.

The provincial government has asked for help from upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas in helping to finance the renovation of existing pools or to build new ones. It had already received support from Chevron in the construction of a Rp 62 billion ($6.5 million) building for the Chinese martial art known as wushu, Rusli said.

“Support from sponsors really helped us,” he said.

The ISSF delegation praised Riau’s preparation and expressed confidence that the province would be fully prepared in time.

“It’s a great honor for us to come to Riau to see the preparation of the upcoming games,” ISSF secretary general Mohammad Saleh Gazdar said. “We are here to coordinate with the organizing committee, which is in Riau and Jakarta, to finalize most of the important issues. Since we came yesterday, we visited the venues where the games are going to be held.

“In fact, because the National Games are being held and the activities are going on and about 11,000 of athletes are here, all the venues are occupied. It was a great opportunity to look at the preparation. The observers saw that the venues are almost very good. There are minor things needed to be maintained and finished as soon as possible. By the time you’re going to hold the games, the venues are ready.”

ISSF’s event might draw 2,500 athletes from 57 member nations of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Riau was criticized after the canopy of the indoor tennis stadium collapsed days before the National Games started. The thickness of the wall surrounding the shooting venue also didn’t meet safety standards.

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