"India always holds a special place in the hearts of sportspeople in Asia, because the nation, specifically New Delhi, was the birthplace of the Asian Games. The torch relay today will bring the two countries even closer," Inasgoc chairman Erick Thoh
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Yogyakarta, which is known as the city of culture, history, education, and tourism, has the honor to be the start of the national relay Asian Games torch, which will begin on July 18, 2018.

Choosing the right city as the start line of the Asian Games torch relay is important because the Games is not just a mere multi-sport event but is also a means to promote the tourism and image of Indonesia worldwide, Erick Thohir, Chairman of the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC), has revealed.

"Yogyakarta is a historic city, and we want to promote its tourism," Thohir stated on July 17, 2018, upon his arrival in Yogyakarta from India, the host of the first Asian Games, to pick up the torch.

In India, the flame was generated from a parabolic mirror directed straight at the sun.

Internationally, the 2018 Asian Games torch relay in fact began its 18,000-kilometer journey on July 15, 2018, from the Major Dyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi, where the flame was lit for the first time at the inaugural edition in 1951.

"India always holds a special place in the hearts of sportspeople in Asia, because the nation, specifically New Delhi, was the birthplace of the Asian Games. The torch relay today will bring the two countries even closer," Thohir stated while in New Delhi.

From India, the torch was transported to Indonesia. It arrived at the Adi Sutjipto Air Force Base in Yogyakarta, in the morning of July 17, aboard a Boeing 737-500 aircraft of the Indonesian Air Force. The aircraft was guarded by five T-501 jets before landing at the Air Force base.

Susi Susanti, a badminton legend, emerged from the aircraft with the torch in her hand and later handed it over to the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force Marshal Yuyu Sutisna.

Governor of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, was present to receive the torch at the airport.

The welcome ceremony was highlighted with a para-motor show featuring the Asian Games` rainbow flag by members of the All Indonesian Aerosport Federation, traditional dances, a parade of the Yogyakarta palace guards, and barongsai dance by the Indonesian Air Force`s officers.

The torch will be kept overnight at the Dirgantara Museum in Yogyakarta. The next day it would be fused with the eternal flame from Mrapen located in Grobogan, Central Java, to highlight the start of the national relay.

In total, the torch will tour 64 cities in 18 provinces across Indonesia, and the relay will end on August 17, the Independence Day of Indonesia, at the National Monument, Jakarta, before being carried to the opening ceremony at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium the following day.

Susanti told the press that the Asian Games torch, which she had just picked up from New Delhi, was a symbol of friendship between Indonesia and India.

The torch will also serve as a symbol for the success of the Asian Games implementation and for the athletes of Indonesia, as the host, she added.

"The process of (carrying) the Asian Games flame is an amazing experience for me. The process was smooth, except for a minor obstacle while trying to enter the airport in India," she recalled.

Sutisna confirmed that a problem arose when the New Delhi airport authorities tried to stop them from carrying the torch.

"In accordance with civil aviation safety, even a cigarette is not allowed on a plane. But, we had sought permission from the local authorities to take the Asian Games flame (to Indonesia), although the process of obtaining the permission took time," he stated.

The 18th Asian Games will run from Aug 18 to Sept 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra. It is the first time that two cities are co-hosting the Games, making it a more challenging task for the organizers.

"In 2026, as you know, FIFA World Cup will be hosted by three different countries (USA, Mexico, and Canada). It is challenging to host Asian Games in two different cities), but it is good for the economy, and the travelling time between both the cities is not much (45 minutes). In future, I am sure more host countries will go for multiple cities. It would help in boosting the growth of the host cities and job creation," Thohir remarked, as reported by PTI, the national news agency of India.

A total of 16,920 athletes and officials from 45 Asian countries have registered for the Games. Overall, more than 11 thousand athletes will be vie for medals in 40 sports and 67 disciplines.
(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/B003) 17-07-2018 21:51:25

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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