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Govt pushes ahead with Papua games preparations despite COVID-19 surge

Tempo - July 7, 2021

Antara, Papua – The Indonesian government has hinted that it will go ahead with the scheduled convening of Papua's 2021 PON National Games even though the country is battling a surge in COVID-19 cases in several cities and districts.

Despite an alarming resurgence in COVID-19 cases that has forced the government to impose emergency public activity restrictions for 18 days from July 3, 2021 in Java and Bali, preparations for the multi-sport event have continued.

On Tuesday, Commander of the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command, Maj.Gen. Ignatius Yogo Triyono, visited Timika to review the construction of facilities for the 2021 PON National Games and National Para Games (Peparnas).

Timika, the capital of Mimika district, has been selected as one of the co-hosts for the PON National Games, due to be held from October 2 – October 15 this year, besides Jayapura City and the districts of Jayapura and Merauke.

Selected athletes and officials from across Indonesian provinces are scheduled to participate in the national sporting event, which will cover 37 sporting disciplines, including athletics, Tarung derajat or West Javan martial arts, handball, sport climbing, futsal, aeromodelling, and judo.

Shortly after arriving in Timika, Triyono and his entourage headed to the 3/SC Cavalry Detachment headquarters to review the progress of construction of two accommodation facilities for volleyball athletes and officials from participating provinces.

Triyono also reviewed the construction of the athletes village and other supporting facilities to ensure that they would be completed as targeted, operations assistant at the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command, Col. Surya Wibawa Suparman, informed.

Regarding the convening of the PON National Games, the top brass of the National Police have highlighted that the security situation in Papua remains conducive ahead of the country's largest multi-sport events.

"The national games will be held as scheduled," National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Rusdi Hartono stated last April.

The Indonesian Defence Forces (TNI) and National Police are readying a security plan to ensure the Papua PON National Games are held as scheduled, he said.

Armed Papuan groups have continued to disrupt law and security in several areas, but the police and army personnel are ably handling their acts of violence, Hartono added.

Security personnel stationed in Papua, including those from the Nemangkawi Task Force, are striving to maintain security to ensure that conditions in the province remain conducive, he remarked.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have used hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and unleashed acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to create fear among the people.

The recent targets of their violence have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and even civilian aircraft.

In view of the security risks, Commander of the Joint Regional Defense Command (Kogabwilhan) III, Lt Gen. Agus Rohman, recently appealed to contingents of athletes and officials from all provinces to coordinate with security agencies during their stay in the province.

This suggestion was put forth as part of security measures in addition to military and police personnel in host cities and districts securing the convening of the multi-sport events, he said.

"We continue to make efforts to ensure that the multi-sport events are convened securely and peacefully," Rohman said in a press statement in June, 2021.

To this end, the Kogabwilhan III has been coordinating with the Papua police and XVII/Cendrawasih Regional Military Command, he informed.

"Our security forces in Timika are strong enough," Rohman affirmed while adding that nine of the 37 sporting disciplines would be contested in the capital of Mimika district.

Meanwhile, Mimika district head Eltinus Omaleng assured that his administrative areas remain safe and secure for all contingents of athletes and officials.

"We guarantee that there will be no (security) problems. This year, Timika will not only become a co-host of the 2021 PON National Games, but it will also host Papua's Kingmi Kemah Injili Church Conference and gospel choir festival," he assured.

Omaleng said he believed that the events would be held in a peaceful manner despite lingering security risks posed by Papuan terrorist groups operating in the Tembagapura sub-district and Kali Kopi neighborhood areas.

To guarantee the security of all contingents of athletes and officials during their stay in Timika, the authorities have made preparations for the deployment of security personnel at the athletes and officials' accommodation complex and sports venues, he informed.

In view of this year's multi-sport events, Papua police have also continued to intensify a community-based program called "Binmas Noken" to win over Papuan communities.

The police are working closely with regional administrations as well as religious and community figures to create and promote a peaceful situation before the convening of the events, officials said.

Through the "Binmas Noken" Program, police officers on duty are giving due importance to being heedful to the Papuan communities' requests, requirements, and aspirations, Papua Police chief, Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri, noted in a recent statement.

With athletes and officials from across the archipelago scheduled to participate in the event, Fakhiri urged journalists to serve the public more soft news rather than hard news, especially pertaining to armed violence.

Over the course of the past year, there has been a downward trend in the armed Papuan separatist terrorist groups operating in Mimika district's administrative areas, Mimika police chief, Adjunct Sen. Coms. IGG Era Adhinata, reported recently.

Scores of Papuan separatist terrorists have reunited with their families and communities to build a better future and have pledged allegiance to Indonesia, Adhinata said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1480574/govt-pushes-ahead-with-papua-games-preparations-despite-covid-19-surg