Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has formally announced that his government will bid for the 2036 Olympic Games to be held in his yet-to-be-built capital city of Nusantara.
Jokowi made the announcement in a statement posted on the Presidential Secretariat’s YouTube channel yesterday, at the close of the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali. “On this occasion, I express Indonesia’s willingness and willingness to host the 2036 Olympic Games in the future capital of Nusantara,” Jokowi said in the statement. according to Tempo.
He also hailed the role of sport in uniting humanity amid the crises that darkened Indonesia’s G-20 presidency this year, including the Russia-Ukraine war and rising tensions between China and the United States.
“As chair of the G20 Summit, and along with other G20 leaders, I underscored the importance of sport for health and its power to unite the world, especially in the current global situation,” he added. “The success of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games will highlight the importance of preserving global neutrality in international sporting events and governing bodies.”
First announced in 2019, the city of Nusantara is being built in East Kalimantan province, some 1,300 kilometers from Jakarta. The government expects the new city to replace Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital by 2024.
The Indonesian offer was welcome by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, “Having seen a presentation of the Nusantara project and the progress already made,” he said. “I am deeply impressed by President Widodo’s vision to develop this city as a model of sustainable living, with a special emphasis on health and sport.”
If successful, Nusantara would become the first city in Southeast Asia to host the Olympics, though not the first to bid: both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur applied to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. Among the others nations is believed to be competing for hosting rights in 2036 are Mexico, South Korea, Great Britain, Egypt, Germany, India and Qatar.
This is not the first time that the Jokowi administration has bid to host the Olympics. At the end of 2020, Indonesia prepared a failed bid to host the 2032 games in Jakarta, an event eventually won by Brisbane. like jokowi told his cabinet at the time, the offer was intended to take advantage of Indonesia’s successful hosting of the 2018 Asian Games, which “has enhanced our confidence and is a revelation to the world that Indonesia is capable of hosting international events.”
At the time of Jakarta’s Olympic bid, I noted that its “prestige value and apparent defiance of economic rationality” bore considerable resemblance to Jokowi’s $40 billion plan to build a new capital city on the island of Borneo. So it is perhaps fitting that the new capital, since then christened Nusantara, is the proposed host city for the 2036 games.
But with construction on the new capital only just beginning and the difficulties the government is facing in attracting investment to Nusantara, any talk of hosting the Olympics would seem highly premature. Whether the new city will be complete by 2036, let alone fit to host a major international sporting event, remains a big question.
Still, the candidacy offers an interesting insight into the ambitions and prospects of Indonesia’s seventh president. In “Man of Contradictions,” his 2020 biography of Jokowi, Ben Bland wrote that the scope of the new capital project was a “testament to his capricious nature and disorganized style of government.”
The plan to use the world’s largest international sports festival to showcase his achievements also reflects his penchant for prestigious mega-projects and his desire to leave a lasting mark in Indonesia.