- Associated Press - Friday, September 19, 2014

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) - Indonesia was formally named the host country for the 2018 Asian Games on Saturday, filling the void created when Vietnam relinquished its hosting rights over financial concerns.

Indonesia’s National Olympic Committee said Saturday that events would be held in the capital of Jakarta, along with the regions of South Sumatra and West Java.

Committee Chairwoman Rita Subowo said the bid had strong support from the central and regional governments and that much of the infrastructure was already in place. Jakarta’s new airport and mass transit system would also be finished by the time the games are held, she said, easing concerns about transportation in the heavily congested city of nearly 10 million people.

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi initially was awarded the games in 2019, but backed out in April, citing a lack of funds. Asian Games organizers wanted to keep the games in 2019, but Indonesia asked to move them to 2018 to avoid clashing with the country’s next presidential election.

Indonesia last hosted the games in 1962. The Indonesian city of Surabaya had earlier bid for the 2019 games, losing to Hanoi in the final vote.

Subowo said the Surabaya bid had given Jakarta a head-start in preparations to take over the games.

“This is our dream, to host the Asian Games again,” Subowa said after the formal announcement of the 2018 host on the sidelines of the 2014 Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon.

“Now this is the chance for our young generation to participate, not only to compete but also to be the host to welcome as volunteers.”

“Starting from now we have to work hard and we need the support of our friends and our colleagues, not only from our Asian friends, but from all over the world,” she said. “Of course, because the time is so short, that’s the biggest challenge so we have to work hard for that.”

Vietnam’s decision to give up the games refocused attention on the massive cost of hosting the event, roughly equivalent to the Olympics in terms of numbers of athletes participating.

Incheon’s leaders had earlier threatened to drop the games unless South Korea’s central government agreed to foot a bigger share of the nearly $2 billion price tag.

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