Olympic dreams as Asian Games close in Jakarta

The 18th Asian Games closed in a glittering ceremony in Jakarta on Sunday as hosts Indonesia dreamed of stepping up to host the Olympics in 2032.

Thousands of athletes in ponchos marched in heavy rain at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium at the close of a two-week tournament featuring 40 sports.

“I declare the 18th Asian Games closed,” Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, told the packed crowd.

“You did it! You made the energy of Asia come through… Jakarta has the capability to host any such major international event,” he added.

Indonesia has defied expectations to host a smooth Games, which with 17,000 athletes and officials is second in size only to the Olympics.

Riding high on the Games’ success, President Joko Widodo has announced a bid to hold the 2032 Olympics — which would have seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

The president addressed the ceremony by video link from an emergency shelter in Lombok, where a string of earthquakes in recent weeks killed 555 people.

“This (Games) is the energy of Asia united to make a difference to the world,” he said.

Olympics chief Thomas Bach has welcomed Indonesia’s bid but he warned the sprawling Southeast Asian country needed to maintain the positive energy generated by the Games.

“I think what is important now for Indonesia is to keep the momentum of this Games,” he said. “So for you now not to fall into a black hole the moment after everybody has left.”

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