Dicky Christanto, Jakarta – The Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) says it has prepared a strict health protocol for next year's U-20 Championship, as ordered. The rules include mandatory swab tests for every player and official involved and admission of just a handful of spectators for matches to ensure sufficient distance is maintained.
"We have them prepared, up and ready," PSSI spokesman Eko Rahmawanto told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He said right now Indonesia was waiting for other countries to complete their respective leagues before they could send their teams to participate in the world championship.
"Up to this date, we have received no complaints, or even worse, cancellations, from those countries. Right now, they are still striving to finish their domestic leagues due to the pandemic," he added.
To date, the U-19 national team has been focusing on its training in Croatia, which commenced on Aug. 30. Formerly, the training in Croatia was seen as preparation for the U-19 Asia World Cup in Uzbekistan in October, which has since been postponed until early next year.
"Therefore, the team was being summoned back home while waiting for other slated matches," PSSI chief Comr. Gen (Ret) Mochamad Iriawan said.
He added that the team was slated to come home on Oct. 28 and the players would be getting ready to participate in the Toulon Tournament in France in December.
Earlier in the day, president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo stated that Indonesia was prepared to host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup next year, including by establishing "strict health protocol" to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Jokowi explained that the government had chosen six places across the Southeast Asian country to host the tournament scheduled to run from May 20 to June 12, 2021, including Jakarta and the resort island of Bali.
"The most important thing is for us to ensure that Indonesia has prepared strict health protocols so it will be very safe to visit and host the U-20 (World Cup) 2021," he told Cabinet ministers in a broadcast meeting, as reported by Reuters.
World soccer governing body FIFA had decided not to hold opening and closing ceremonies due to the pandemic, according to Muhadjir Effendy, Indonesia's chief development minister.
With the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, authorities have been struggling to contain the outbreak in the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.
The world's fourth-most populous country has recorded 365,240 COVID-19 cases, including 12,617 that have ended deadly, as of Monday.
FIFA and the appointed local authority were yet to decide on the size of crowds to be allowed in stadiums, while ensuring safety, Sports Minister Zainudin Amali told the meeting.
"We hope that, in May-June, audiences will be allowed, whether at half or limited capacity of the stadiums," he said.
Zainudin said Indonesia's infrastructure development for the tournament was on track, including work on stadiums, training venues and supporting facilities.
"Holding this world cup is not only for the sports activities, but also tourism," he said, adding that he hoped players and officials would seize the opportunity to enjoy the sights of the country.