The Pomp of the Games: Sports, Politics, and Ritual in the Indonesian Asian Games – Southeast Asia Center

By : Imam Subkhan
When we win, it ’ s an accomplishment
When we fail, don ’ thyroxine be frustrated
When we win, show solidarity
Let ’ s display sportsmanship
( Via Vallen, “ Reach for the Stars, ” the 18th asian Games official composition song )

While politicians, sports federations, and professionals frequently repudiate the radio link between politics and sports on behalf of neutrality, sportsmanship, and meritocracy, many believe that sports and politics are indivisible. This contradictory point of view of views departs from two different levels of interrelate domain and analysis that probably establish each other that I call the sports airfield and political arena. In this article, I argue that the principle of sportsmanship, neutrality, and meritocracy in the sports field can be upheld without invalidating the bearing of the political sphere in the sports games. The sports plain in which athletes compete with one another to reach victory and the political arena that refers to the sociocultural quad around those involved in the events are two sides of the lapp mint that constitute the mod multi-sports consequence. The stream asian Games would be the best advantage period for understanding how the moral principles of sports games entangle with the political pulsation and desires in the practices mediated through the ritualization of the sports games .
Indonesia is considered to have succeeded in hosting the greatest multi-sport event in the earth after the Olympics, the 18th asian Games in Jakarta, and Palembang, South Sumatera from August 18 to September 2, 2018. In the Games that drew about 17,000 athletes, coaches, and officials, not only did Indonesia earn 31 gold medals and 98 medals overall that put the country fourthly in the decoration postpone, behind South Korea, Japan, and China—the highest accomplishment in the asian Games history since 1962—, but besides received international recognition that will boost the status and image of Indonesia among the universe ’ s countries, particularly in the asian region ( wright 2018 ; Wade 2018 ). In his statement, the IOC President Thomas Bach said that “ with this asian Games, with this great success, Indonesia has demonstrated that it has all the ingredients to organize the Olympic Games in a identical successful way ” ( Nathalia 2018 )
The Politics of the Games
It was indonesian first President Sukarno who called for establishing a sport association on the basis of politics after the IOC suspended indonesian from the Olympic Games for rejecting to issue visa for Taiwan and Israel participants in the fourth asian Games in Jakarta in 1962 ( Pauker 1965 ; Boykoff 2016 ; Field 2017 ). The IOC accused Indonesia of exerting a political sphere in the sports game that violated the principle of disinterest. Rather than lobbying for withdrawing the suspension, Sukarno challenged the IOC by forming and hosting the rival of the Olympic Games named the Games of the New Emerging Forces ( GANEFO ). No more than 2,200 athletes from forty-eight countries, including the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, France, and the Netherlands participated in the Games. Through the GANEFO, Sukarno attempted to lift the political position of Indonesia internationally as a new country in leading the anti-colonialism and imperialism movement. however, according to his political opponents, the GANEFO was besides used by Sukarno to divert the people ’ second attention from their economic hardships and mis-governance .
The roles of sport as a political mean and a soft world power strategy to “ attract and co-opt [ others ] to want what you want ” ( Nye 2004, 2 ) are still relevant today. As the members of the G-20, the third biggest democratic and the largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia hasn ’ thyroxine played the most significant global roles both politically and economically. The eighteenth asian Games became the political stadium that provided an opportunity to contribute to the process of increasing the nation ’ mho effigy and identity and showcasing Indonesia globally. therefore, the indonesian government did its best to depict itself as a modern, boost nation and meet the globalize standard of the first event .
These unplayful efforts were not merely indicated by the huge money that the indonesian government spend on the Games—IDR 4.5 trillion ( $ 338 million ) was disbursed from the state budget—but besides manifested in the detail project activities to enchant and remake Jakarta and Palembang to be a cosmopolitan city. The local anesthetic politics with the cardinal government worked together to develop infrastructures quickly, beautify the cities ’ appearance, and ensure the cities ’ security and condom. A month before the consequence, for case, the Jakarta city politics managed to solve the fetid Sentiong river, wide called Kali Item ( Black River ), which traverses the area near the athletes ’ venues in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. Governor Anies Baswedan ordered the cover up of the river with a 689-meter-long black nylon net combined with aerators treatment and nanobubble technology in an attack to reduce the foul smell generated from the dehydration of the pollute river water ( Cochrane 2018 ) .
The giant black nylon net stick out, worth IDR 580 million ( US $ 40,000 ), triggered public criticism for deploying this moment and ineffective solution. The Kali Item argue got heated after Governor Anies blamed the former government ’ s failure—pointing to his political rival in the concluding dramatic gubernatorial election, Basuki “ Ahok ” Tjahaja Purnama— for not taking the measures to address the river trouble for years. This accusation was countered by a netizen who uploaded photos about a group of children swimming at the Kali Item that was apparently clean in the years of Ahok ’ second term. however, the debate immediately ended when Vice President Jusuf Kalla and respective Jakarta City Councilors visited the Kali Item to monitor the advance of its discussion. The City Councilors even went to a restaurant located about 20 meters from the river and eat tongseng ( indonesian sweet-and-spicy capricorn fret ) to show to the public that the unpleasant smack had disappeared .
The desire to convey an double of modernity and express national identity was besides demonstrated in the open ceremony of the Games at the Bung Karno stadium. The ceremony started with a video showing a man who resembled President Jokowi, dressing in a black suit, white shirt and crimson affiliation, riding a presidential Security Detail ( Paspamres ) motorcycle to enter the stadium after maneuvering his way through the Jakarta traffic jamming and specialize valley and even making a stoppie for a seasonably arrival at the ceremony. The theme of the video recording was inspired by the London Olympics opening ceremony when James Bond actor Daniel Craig transported Queen Elizabeth II from the palace to the stadium by helicopter. Despite the taste of the fantastic open ceremony, oppositional politicians accused Jokowi of exploiting the ceremony as a means to perpetuate his image ahead of the presidential election next year .
As a welcome greet of the ceremony, 1500 female students performed a colossal Garis Indonesia dance adapted from the Acehnese traditional dance Ratoeh Jaroe. The dance represented Indonesia ’ s deep culture and diverseness that is by and large influenced by Islamic polish and conveyed the message of oneness, togetherness, and solidarity that ties the indonesian nation despite cultural and religious differences. The impressive open ceremony invited admiration and appreciation from both audiences in the stadium and those who watched from hot circulate television receiver, which overwhelmed social media and press coverage. They expressed how proud they were of being indonesian citizens that increased the assurance. The ceremony became a the self-demonstrative fomite that shows Indonesian is able of hosting a first sports event as the advance countries are without losing their singular identity. This plus reputation, in call on, would augment indonesian global status and position on the universe degree ( Cha 2009 ) .
Athletes as Exemplary Figures
apart from showing home identity and building department of state persona, the asian Games was a moment where athletes became a symbol of the nation that constitutes the moral order of the community. indonesian athletes who play at the games do not merely represent themselves as individuals bounded by the sports ’ rule and regulation but as “ an exemplary human body who embodies the moral value of the community and thus serve as a symbol of those values ” ( Birrell 1981 ). By taking this model, the prompt legal action of the japanese officials to send home their four basketball players who paid for sex in Jakarta during the Games was reasonable. They were regarded as having disgraced not lone themselves but besides a national team and the japanese people .
In contrast, a young indonesian sprinter, Lalu Muhammad Zohri who won the 2018 World Junior Championship and a 4 ten 100-meter slipstream silver decoration of the eighteenth asian Games is admired and adored by Indonesians. He is a function model for hard work and a never-give-up heart. Despite being born in a poor class and raised in a bamboo hovel, he was steadfast in making his dream come true. not able to afford shoes, Zohri used to train to run barefooted on the beach near his village in the rural Lombok island. He even asked his sister for money to buy shoes before departing to Finland to participate in the World Junior Championship on July 2018. Coming back from Finland as a supporter, he got the overpowering expression of populace sympathy due to his poor syndicate background, and his dash video in the Finlandia backing became viral. President Jokowi invited him to the palace to receive the award and appreciation from the indonesian government. Zohri ’ s fib continued during the Games in which he joined in the men ’ randomness 100 meters and 4 ten 100-meter run categories. A herd of thousands jammed the stadium to applaud and give him moral support. The people kept praising his efforts even though he only presented a eloquent decoration to the nation .
In the like vein, a women taekwondo champion Defia Rosmaniar, the first Indonesian gold decoration holder at the Games, besides won the hearts of the indonesian people. She shared her sacrifice by training hard and systematically for success. For case, living away from family even and missing her father ’ second funeral during her aim camp in South Korea. The same spirit was besides demonstrated by a men ’ sulfur singles badminton player Anthony Sinisuka Ginting who lay on the court after getting a hamstring injury when he played against Shi Yuqi from China in the men ’ south team badminton final of the Games. Many appreciated his struggles in the heroic meet though he finally had to quit the game when his injury was getting worse. A thousand supporters applauded him and gave a digest ovation when he was carried off on a stretcher out of the woo .
Ritualization of the Games
All those stories tell us how the moral values of the community are manifest in the athletes fighting at the Games. Drawing on Durkheimian works, sports games and religion to some extent have the lapp logic in the room both relate to the sacred thing. In his canonic koran, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Durkheim ( 1915 ) divides the religious process into two aspects : beliefs and rites. Beliefs are characterized as “ department of state of opinion, and dwell in representation, ” while rites are “ determined modes of action ” that relate to the sacred things ( 51 ). The characters of the sacred things according to Goffman ( 1982 ) are something that must be protected, affirmed, and maintained, and require a residential district to respect them. The place of the gods is taken by the athletes through ritualization in the shape of the sports games. As two crossed sticks become sacred through the Christian ritual, athletes are besides transformed into the sacred through the sports game.

A tae kwon do champion like Defia Rosmaniar is in the corrupt when she trains in the backyard of her house. But she is the sacred once she joined in the ritualize competition such as the asian Games. In the ritual of the asian Games, she does not just represent an individual but besides embodies the collective representation, national pride, identity, and moral order to which the people are attached. The ritual of the Games starts with the first step ceremony to initiate the athletes who will participate in the contest and ends with the closing ceremony to reintegrate and return the athletes to their community with a new identity as a champion. Between two of them, athletes experience the liminality of the rival in which they are in “ the state and process which is betwixt-and between the normal, daily cultural and social states and processes of getting and spend, preserving police and order, and registering morphologic status ” ( Turner 1979, 465 ). The competition that takes place in the sport fields is the mid-phase of the ritual during which athletes are in passage from ordinary-citizen status to national heroes .
The athletes mediate the symbols of the community and the individuals within the community that occur in the sports games. The extent to which athletes are respected by individuals depends on how they hold the principle values in the sports field such as disinterest, sportsmanship, and meritocracy. however, the ritualization of the sports field besides involves the political arena of the sports games that allows the competition in the sports battlefield to take position. The asian Games is the mega consequence that requires a political decision because it brings political sovereignty and identity. Without a political decision, the asian Games would not be able to mobilize state resources such as ideas, people, budget, facilities, bureaucracy, and commercialize. As a political decision, the asian Games unfolds the political arena in which department of state actors negotiate with one another to gain their own interests : repute and legalization. In this way, we see that sports can not be separated from the politics. But the politics obviously contributes to the presence of the sports sphere in which athletes ritualized that dwell in principle values and moral order in the competition to be respected by the people and become sacred .
From the ritual analysis of the asian Games, we besides find that the instrumental position that regards the gaudery of the Games served the state office seems inadequate to understand the diametric facts in which all the efforts of the state attempted to display and direct to the pomp. Rather than legitimating and preserving the state power, the pomp of the Games was supported and erected by submit power. In other words, the pomp of the Games was an end in itself, not a mean of baron. It was the power to which “ the unharmed of the Negara [ state ] …was basically directed ” ( Geertz 1980, 124 ). The gaudery of the Games was the embodiment of the social and moral order of the community that constitute the politics of the country .
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