Asian Games 2018 from the newsroom

Asian Games 2018 from the newsroom

The countdown to Asian Games 2018 is almost over. This weekend, 45 countries across Asia will celebrate the opening of the 18th Asian Games and compete against each other to claim the bragging rights as the champion of the continent, promising exciting stories from inside and outside the arena.

Every journalist who comes to cover the event will have to be prepared to cover more than 460 games from 40 sports taking place from Jakarta, Palembang, and several regions in West Java and the Banten area ranging from Soreang, Cibinong, Bekasi, Cikarang, Puncak, Tangerang, Subang, to Majalengka, and turns out that it isn’t just the athletes who are taking their health and fitness seriously.

"From the physical standpoint, do not miss your mealtime and if necessary take some vitamins or supplements," said CNNIndonesia.com's Sports Editor, Haryanto Tri Wibowo. "From the editor's perspective, we must also have good coverage planning such as selecting our priorities, given that there will be 40 sports and it will be impossible to cover them all."

The importance of good physical endurance and coverage planning was also voiced by the Sports Editor of Okezone.com, Ramdani Bur.

"A fit body is definitely important, considering that this event will be held for more than two weeks, so we're going to need a strong physical endurance. We also have to understand the sports that we will cover, so we will not be confused while on the field," said Ramdani.

While those two sports editors are pointing out the importance of good stamina and planning. There is another challenge for journalists or media outlets who cover the Asian Games but do not have a sports background. One of which is Femina, a media that focuses more on lifestyle, fashion, and entertainment issues.

"We covered the Asian Games (published in Femina's August edition) and it was quite tricky because we are a lifestyle magazine. We need to look from a different perspective," said Femina's Senior Features Editor, Citra Narada Putri. "We're emphasising more on the human interest angles."

Priority Sports
Though Haryanto, Ramdani, and Citra have their say on preparing the Asian Games coverage, the real struggle will come when the event starts due to the sheer volume of activities. With 40 different sports to be played, there’s also some that are unique to these Games, such as kabaddi, an Indian sport that combines wrestling and agility games.

Hendra Saputra from Viva.co.id admits that kabaddi could be a challenge because many are not familiar with its rules nor the game itself. Kabaddi was also mentioned by Ramdani, who feels the variety of sports in 2018's Asian Games may have forced journalists to learn more about other unfamiliar sports.

"As a journalist, we have to adapt. We have to learn about these "new" sports, that is why I am starting to learn it all to help me during the coverage," Ramdani explained.

The importance of studying - or a least knowing - the sports that will be covered was also voiced by Haryanto, who again emphasised more on the importance of the newsroom's role to plan its coverage.

"We must know which sports our readers are interested in. We also have to predict where and when Indonesia has the opportunity to claim a gold medal. So we have to have a good preparation and know what our priority coverages are. When we know all of that, the journalist will definitely have a plan and knowledge about that sport," added Haryanto.

In terms of priority sports, badminton is one of the popular sports in Asian Games. VIP tickets for the badminton final are Rp800,000 (around US$55.5). It is more expensive than other sports such as baseball (Rp500,000 / US$34.6), softball (Rp400,000 / US$27.7), or boxing (Rp250,000 / US$17.3). The surging price of badminton's tickets is quite understandable considering its popularity among Indonesians and also how it's constantly been a gold medal source for the nation.

"We might get two gold medals from badminton. Probably from Kevin Sanjaya / Marcus Gideon (men's doubles) and Tantowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir (mixed doubles)," said Hendra.

View from the host
Asian Games 2018 is actually not the first Asian Games Indonesia has hosted. Previously, the nation had held the 1962's Asian Games which was marked by the construction of various landmarks in Jakarta such as the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Hotel Indonesia (HI), or the Selamat Datang (Welcome) monument in Bundaran HI (Hotel Indonesia traffic circle). But 56 years apart, with more than 15,000 athletes (compared to around 1,400 athletes in Asian Games 1962) plus officials and supporters from the participant's countries to accommodate, is Indonesia ready?

"The preparation is already maximal. INASGOC (Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee) has collaborated with various parties to make sure the infrastructure work is completed on time and several venues were also completed before the specified time," Ramdani said. "In addition, vehicles restrictions through odd-even methods in several main roads, plus closing 19 highway booths (in Jakarta) are also considered effective to reduce the traffic congestion. This is very important to make sure athletes who stay at the guesthouse in Kemayoran, can arrive on each sports venues within 30 minutes."

Like Ramdani, Bowie is also quite satisfied with the infrastructure preparation even though he felt there were several venues that were only prepared the last minute. However, SINDOnews' Journalist, Stefanus Susanto understood the development's acceleration. He argued that the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) actually wanted the Asian Games to be held in 2019 so there will be only a small gap between Asian Games and the next summer Olympics (to be held in Japan in 2020). In the end, the Asian Games were finally held this year because 2019 is considered as a political year in Indonesia (presidential election).

But, overall, these journalists seem to be optimistic towards the Asian Games. They are hoping the event will go smoothly and Indonesia can achieve a better position (Indonesia was ranked 17th in the 2014's Asian Games in South Korea).

"Obviously, I hope Indonesia will not only succeed in achieving optimal performance (finishing top 10 according to the government's target) but also be a successful host nation," said Ramdani.

"It is also possible that the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia can be more successful than the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

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  • Citra Narada Putri
  • Haryanto Tri Wibowo
  • Ramdani Bur
  • Stefanus Susanto
  • Muhammad Nurhendra Saputra
  • Telum Media
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