Bali has formally pulled out of hosting the Olympic World Beach Games less than a month before the event was due to start.
As a result, the 2023 World Beach Games has been completely canceled, leaving athletes in a state of despair and communities and businesses in Bali questioning how to move forward.
The 2nd World Beach Games was set to be a huge international spectacle and a great opportunity for Bali to position itself as a world-class destination for hosting big sporting events.
The island was named as host of the games last year, and there was much excitement about the event coming to the province.
The Olympic World Beach Games was set to welcome the best athletes in the world to compete in the aquathlon, beach handball, beach soccer, beach tennis, beach volleyball 4×4, beach water polo, beach wrestling, and more.
However, on Wednesday, 5th July, Bali formally withdrew its commitment to host the games next month. In a statement issued by the World Beach Games, organizers share their despair.
The statement reads, “It is with great surprise and extreme disappointment that ANOC has learned that the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) has withdrawn from its commitment to host the ANOC World Beach Games and the ANOC General Assembly in August 2023.”
The statement continues, “With the Games scheduled to take place in one month, the decision at such late notice prevents ANOC from being able to find an alternative host, and so there is no option but to cancel this year’s edition of the Games in Bali in August as well as the ANOC General Assembly.”
The news has rocked sports lovers in Bali and those who already had plans to visit the island, especially for the games.
Many local people are doubly disappointed since this is not the first international sports event that the island has pulled out of hosting at short notice.
Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster previously rejected the participation of the Israeli football team in the FIFA U20s World Cup, of which Bali was due to host qualifying rounds.
Governor Koster has since made an announcement of his own regarding the cancellation of the games.
He was keen to emphasize that the decision to withdraw from hosting was made by the Indonesian Olympic Committee, not by the provincial government, and that anything to the contrary would be considered ‘fake news.’
Governor Koster told reports that he had been in contact with the Chairperson of the ANOC World Beach Games Central Committee, Raja Sapta Oktohari, who revealed that the committee had not been given funding from the central government.
Many local people have taken to social media to share their upset that the major international sporting event will no longer be coming to their home island.
In an Instagram post, social justice advocate and local entrepreneur Ni Luh Djelantik voiced her frustration at the news.
In a post, she wrote, “We have destroyed thousands of those dreams. The athletes, the participant’s countries, the hospitality businesses, and everything around it, not to mention the pride and hope of the Indonesian people.”
“How are we going to fix it? Well, we won’t give up. We will work together to pick those glasses that have been shattered.” Her views were echoed by many in the comments section.
The Indonesian Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economies, who have previously been clear in the commitment to putting the country on the map as a destination for big sporting and music events, has said that the conversation is ongoing and did not want to speculate as further details are emerging.
The World Beach Games in Bali was set to welcome over 1,500 athletes from 130 countries, in addition to over 200 delegates and world sports organizations.
This is in addition to spectators and sports lovers from around the world and across Indonesia who already had plans to fly into the island to be a part of the action.
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