Gallery: How beach volleyball offends Asian Muslims

Don’t laugh! This is a serious matter. Female athletes’ outfits can disrupt the upcoming Asian Games here!

You can argue that the sports apparel meets international standards and Indonesia has no choice but to abide by the rule.

But don’t forget this is Indonesia. We are very good at creating our own logic. For instance, the bikini bottoms worn by female beach volleyball players violate religious norms.

Remember, this is a political year for Indonesia and tensions between supporters of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and those of his likely presidential election opponent Prabowo Subianto are simmering.

If you follow social media, you can easily sense deepseated hatred among supporters.

On June 27, 17 provinces, 39 cities and 115 regencies will hold simultaneous elections. In the past, political contests have often been marred by violence as the losers could not accept their defeat. Conflict has even dragged on for months after the elections were over.

Another crucial moment in this election year will come in August, when presidential candidates, perhaps including Jokowi and Prabowo, and their running mates register with the national poll body as a requirement to run in the April 21, 2019 election.

Those political events will take place close to the Asian Games, which will run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and the South Sumatra capital of Palembang.

The government is preoccupied by and spending big on the preparations for the continent’s largest sporting event, although the efforts have not yet pleased the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

But whether the government has anticipated politicization of any Asian Games-related issue that people would not make a fuss about in normal years is really a question.

Chief of the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) Erick Thohir proudly announced a few days ago the government would provide maximum security to ensure the Games run peacefully.

Last Saturday’s incident in the aftermath of the President Cup soccer tournament at Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta, a test event for the Asian Games, shows how politics can easily steal the show.

During the trophy presentation to the champions Persija Jakarta, the presidential security detail prevented Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan from joining President Jokowi, despite the presidential protocol that says otherwise. – ANN

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