JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's desire to see its traditional martial arts, pencak silat, featured in the Asian Games (Asiad) received encouragement from Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) official in charge of foreign affairs Oyong Karmayudha on Tuesday.
Despite the bad news conveyed Monday by IPSI chairman Eddy Nalapraya that Asiad would replace pencak silat with snooker and squash, Oyong denied the news.
"In fact, pencak silat is still recognized as an Asian sport that can be held in any Asian Games. The recognition is truly an achievement," Oyong told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the 2000 Pencak Silat World Championship final preparation at Pencak Silat Center in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta.
"Whether a host will stage pencak silat or not is a different matter. It's the host's right to do so. We have to argue the issue."
Local media quoted Eddy as saying that pencak silat failed to make its debut in Asiad following the election of Qatar capital of Doha as host. Reports also said that snooker and squash would replace pencak silat in the quadrennial event in Pusan, South Korea, in 2002.
"The news is totally false and misleading. There is no connection between Doha being elected the host and the chance for pencak silat to be recognized as an Asian sport," said Oyong.
"As for snooker and squash, both sports were recognized as Asiad sports during previous Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) meetings. Pusan, as the host, has the right to have the sports for the 2002 Asiad."
Oyong said Pusan organizers were having financial problems and the governing bodies of both sports would be required to cover all related expenses.
"If we want to have pencak silat to be featured as an exhibition event in Pusan, we have to cover all the expenses. The host will only provide the venue."
"I will explain to members of the International Pencak Silat Federation (Persilat) in our Saturday conference the possibility of demonstrating the sport in Pusan at our own expense."
Oyong also said Qatar and several other Middle East countries have mentioned their interest to learn pencak silat and had requested Indonesia to send coaches.
"Currently, there are pencak silat schools in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. Kuwait has also asked for coaches."
"If we can develop pencak silat in the Gulf, we will find no difficulties to stage the sport in Doha. We still have six years to prepare."
The championships were officially opened by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri. The first round matches start Wednesday.
In the men's side first round, Abdul Karim will meet Nguyen Thant Thuy of Vietnam in A class (45-50kgs) and compatriot Abas Akbar will see Rico Rodriguez of Spain in D class (60-65kgs).
Haris Nugroho will face Jan van Houten of the Netherlands in E division (65-70kgs) and Fentje Roike Maengkom will meet another Dutchman Martijn Houwerzyl in F class (70-75kgs).
Rony Syaifullah will challenge Verdun Jan of Belgium in G class (75- 80kgs) and Sigit Infantoro will meet Roberto Chiong of the Phillipines in H division (80-85kgs). Samuel Mallo will see Landajo Echavarria of Spain in the heaviest J class (90-95kgs).
In the women's section, Tina Martina will face Trinh Thi Muy of Vietnam in C class (55-60kgs) while Alfana will meet Mastura binte Sapuan of Malaysia in D class.
Other matches will include Septi Hariandja who will see Pieters Wendy of Belgium in E class and Dwi Damayanti, who will face Norsharina of Brunei Darussalam in F class.
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