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Honoring the Human Spirit – Editorial




Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)

Jakarta ●
Sat 6 Aug 2022

Archery,medal,Southeast-Asia,ceremony,Paralympic Games,Joko-Widodo,handicap,struggle,discrimination,marginalization,surakarta

As the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. This week, disabled athletes from across Southeast Asia proved that their competitive spirit and love for the nation outweighed their so-called physical limitations.

These men and women fought for the recognition of their nation during the 11e ASEAN Paralympic Games, hosted by the Central Java cities of Surakarta and Semarang. Heading into today’s closing ceremony, Indonesia are guaranteed to be the overall champions with their unassailable lead in the medal standings over nearest rivals Malaysia.

Winning accolades is one thing, but overcoming discrimination, marginalization and public misperceptions, as well as entrenched stigmas, is another. All Southeast Asian athletes participating in the biennial event, whether they return home empty-handed or with medals, will stand before the world with their heads held high at the end of the Games, as they have shown their courage and their courage.

For Indonesian athletes, the timing of the Games couldn’t be better as they and 276 million other Indonesians prepare to score 77e anniversary of the country’s independence on August 17.

The weeklong Games have indeed been a story of struggle, with athletes across the region having to come in and maintain their peak form amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, including soaring numbers here, so that they can participate in the multi-sport event.

In fact, at least 17 athletes and officials had tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Surakarta, but tested negative after five days of self-isolation.

Rima Ferdianto, executive secretary of the Indonesian National Paralympic Organizing Committee (INASPOC), said Indonesia followed international standards to ensure everyone involved in the Games, as well as local residents, were safe. and protected.

The government gradually started easing mobility restrictions ahead of Idul Fitri, which fell on May 1-2, reporting relatively low numbers of new daily infections. In recent weeks, however, the number of cases in the country has risen again with the detection of new subvariants of Omicron, prompting the government to step up its recall rollout.

Surakarta Health Agency chief Siti Wahyuningsih said all Paralympic athletes undergo regular screenings to prevent the spread of the disease, with some athletes even being tested daily.

Those who have donned the “red and white” at the Games have surely gone through their own ordeal in life. Indonesian archer Kholidin, for example, trained for several years to aim with one arm, following an accident that amputated his right arm in 2016, and uses his teeth to shoot his arrows. This technique worked for Kholidin, who collected a gold, a silver and a bronze at the para-games.

But Kholidin cannot rely on sport to survive day to day, so he sells porridge for a living. There are many people with disabilities who do not have access to jobs, simply because no one gives them the opportunity.

For their tireless spirit and hard work, athletes deserve our respect. Perhaps President Joko Widodo will close the ASEAN Para Games himself to honor their achievements, in a ceremony which Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka says will be more exciting than the opening ceremony. .

However, there is no better reward for athletes, and people with disabilities in general, than an environment that welcomes them and supports their development.




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