Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has officially announced that his government will bid to host the 2036 Olympic Games in the yet-to-be-built capital, Nusantara.
Jokowi made the announcement in a statement broadcast on the Presidential Secretariat’s YouTube channel yesterday, at the conclusion of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali. “On this occasion, I express Indonesia’s willingness and willingness to host the 2036 Olympics in the future capital Nusantara,” Jokowi said in the statement, according to Tempo.
He also praised the role of sport in uniting humanity amid the crises that have darkened Indonesia’s G20 presidency this year, including the Russian-Ukrainian war and rising tensions between China and the United States.
He added, “As chair of the G20 summit, and in cooperation with other G20 leaders, I stressed the importance of sport for health, and its ability to unite the world, especially in light of the current global situation.” “The success of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games will highlight the importance of maintaining global neutrality in international sporting events and governing bodies.”
First announced in 2019, the city of Nusantara is being built in the province of East Kalimantan, about 1,300 kilometers from Jakarta. The government hopes the new city will replace Jakarta as Indonesia’s capital by 2024.
IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the Indonesian bid “having seen a presentation of the Nusantara project and the progress that has already been made,” he said. “I am deeply impressed by President Widodo’s vision to develop this city as a model for sustainable living, with a particular focus on health and sports.”
If successful, Nusantara would become the first city in Southeast Asia to host the Olympics, though it is not the first to bid: Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have both bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. In the year 2036, Mexico, South Korea, Britain, Egypt, Germany, India, and Qatar.
This is not the first time the Jokowi administration has attempted to host the Olympics. In late 2020, Indonesia put together an unsuccessful bid to host the 2032 Games in Jakarta, an event that Brisbane eventually won. As Jokowi told his cabinet at the time, the bid was meant to build on Indonesia’s success in hosting the 2018 Asian Games, which “improved our confidence and opened the eyes of the world that Indonesia is capable of hosting international events.”
At the time of Jakarta’s bid for the Olympics, I noted that “prestige value and apparent challenge to economic rationality” bore striking similarities 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 its christening Nusantara, should be the proposed host city for the 2036 Games.
But given that construction in the new capital has barely begun, and the government’s difficulties in attracting investment to Nusantara, any talk of hosting the Olympics seems premature. Whether the new city will be completed by 2036, let alone whether it will be in a position to host a major international sporting event, remains highly questionable.
Nevertheless, the show does provide an interesting insight into the ambitions and prospects of the 7th President of Indonesia. In his book A Man of Contradictions, Jokowi’s 2020 biography, Ben Bland writes that the scope of the new capital project was “evidence of his bizarre nature and disorganized style of governance”.
The plan to use the world’s first international sports camp to showcase his achievements also reflects his penchant for mega-projects – and his desire to make a lasting mark on Indonesia.