PON XX Papua: A Momentum for Unveiling Papua’s Greatest Potentials

(Photo Credit: Tempo.co)

NEWS — June 2021

Indonesia’s national sports event called the XX National Sports Week or Pekan Olahraga Nasional (PON) XX is scheduled to be held on 2–15 October 2021 in Papua. It is the right momentum for accelerating the equitable development of Papua and strengthening the unity of Indonesia as a big nation.

More than 6,480 athletes from 33 provinces in Indonesia will participate in this prestigious event who will compete in 37 sports, 56 sports disciplines, and 679 match numbers. Despite the region’s security concern, which becomes one of the greatest challenges in organizing this national event, all stakeholders are optimistic that this event will run smoothly and safely. The matches will be held simultaneously in five different venues; Jayapura, Merauke, Jayawijaya, Mimika, and Biak Numfor.

These regions are chosen as the main sports arenas due to their strategic positions, which could unleash regional social and economic potentials, the availability of adequate infrastructures to support the success of the events, and social security and vulnerability considerations.

According to the masterplan of infrastructure and economic development of PON XX, the development focus will be on these following sectors: (1) infrastructure which meets the national and international standards for sports competition, (2) tourism and economic creative which emphasizes maximizing the potential of local products, and (3) venue and guest house which can be developed into the center for sports education for Papuan athletes.

Concerning the strategic economic consideration, it is expected that after PON XX finished, all of the infrastructure and resources in established, such as housing, roads and bridges, access to clean water, electricity, and telecommunications, and green open spaces, can support the local economic activity so that it can boost the regional development.

PON XX: How Do the Fundamental Values of Sports Teach Us?

Nelson Mandela said in 2000 that: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair.”

Sports are actually not just about competing in the fields to gain the winner trophy; but it is indeed a test and process for cultivating several fundamental values that are not only integral to sports but relevant in everyday life, such as integrity, solidarity, tolerance, care, honesty, respect (to the written rules), friendship, and surely fair play. Beyond that, sports can also be used to promote peace and form a mutual understanding among all people involved in the competitions. All of the physical activities in sports can improve individual health and well-being, both physically and mentally, and teach important values and social skills that bind people together.

As a big nation consisting of 1,300 ethnic groups speaking over 300 local languages, Indonesia holds a motto of “Unity in Diversity” which signifies the country’s richness as there is huge cultural, ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity who live together largely in peace. In PON XX, Papua will be the host for around 6,480 athletes from 33 provinces in Indonesia who will engage in various sports competitions; and also many o

thers teams, coaches, and supporters who will also witness the beauty of Papua. The central government’s decision to chose Papua as the venue for PON XX is not simply because they want to enhance the regional development of Papua Province given the establishment of various infrastructures in the region, but also to bring all people across Indonesia to know Papua closer so it could strengthen the sense of brotherhood among everyone as the members of one home, named Indonesia.

The Raising Political and Security Concerns over PON XX

Over the past few months, Papua has been at the center of national security attention given the raising political and security concerns in the province, especially after the central government decided to officially label armed criminal groups or Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata (KKB) Papua as terrorist group given their brutality in carrying out a series of attacks which targeted civilians and public spaces including schools.

Following this, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, stated that the dispute settlement in Papua could not be carried out with weapons. He further emphasizes that the dialogue process must become the priority for ensuring the welfare of people in the Land of Cenderawasih. Thus, it is critical to walk the talk and ensure that all stakeholders, from the top until the low level of leadership, are well aware of this commitment and ready to translate their commitments into actions.

In order to ensure security in Papua during PON XX, the Indonesian Armed Forces and National Police will be in charge in all areas. At the same time, the local youth of Papua will also be involved in supporting the security personnel. These Papuan youth are the volunteers recruited to help to secure Papua during PON XX in four clusters; Jayapura City, Jayapura Regency, Mimika, and Merauke.

PON XX would also teach us that collective effort in ensuring security in Papua is needed as it becomes the responsibility of everyone, not only the security personnel but also all societies’ levels, to ensure that all guests coming to Papua will be safe. In doing so, it needs cooperation among all stakeholders, not only those at the national level but also at the regional level, especially the society. It is further expected that this kind of cooperation would last after PON has finished so that security in all areas of Papua can be achieved with no guns nor weapons.

The Social and Economic Benefits of PON XX to Papuan

With the massive development in all sectors prepared for PON XX in Papua, it shows that the national government is committed to transcending the livelihoods of Papuan with a special emphasis on the social and economic aspects. Furthermore, building infrastructure should also be understood as creating a new hope for sustainable community development. In the case of Papua, PON XX would open the momentum up for generating jobs and economic opportunities for Papuan, such as promoting their local products like souvenirs, foods, and other stuff during the events.

PON XX woulf also enhance social interactions in the trading activity by Papuan “mama-mama” selling their creative economy handicrafts, such as noken bags that UNESCO has recognized as the intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. Noken is a knotted net or woven bag handmade from wood fibre or leaves by communities in Papua and West Papua Provinces of Indonesia. Men and women use it for carrying plantation produce, catch from the sea or lake, firewood, babies or small animals, shopping, and storing things in the home.

During PON XX, Papua would be the miniature of Indonesia as everyone coming from all provinces in the country gathers in Papua to join one of the nation’s most prestigious sports competitions. The fair play would become the core value of this competition. Alexander Kapisa, Acting Head of the Youth and Sports Services of Papua, said that PON XX is their pride as Papuan. It could never happen again in the next 10–20 years; thus, they are committed to ensuring that all preparations and implementations are running well.

The sports venues designed for PON XX are expected to be used during the sports event on 2–15 October 2021 and other sports activities. Besides, the other potential sector to unveil is tourism since there will be many tourists, so that the hotel and lodging occupancy will be full. PON XX can therefore be the momentum to accelerate tourism development strategies, tourism products, and the environmental tourist destinations in Papua.

Everyone will always remember Papua’s success in organizing the PON XX, not only at the national but also international levels — since Papua shows the face of hopes and potentials of Indonesia in sports. Another good news is that Papua Bangkit Main Stadium in Kampung Harapan Sports Area, East Sentani District, Jayapura, is proposed to be one of the stadiums for the 2034 World Cup event.

To conclude, Papua needs to maintain the entire positive image as a host and keep up such a trustworthy image to provide a comfortable environment for everyone coming to Papua. Therefore, everyone must be committed to respect sports’ universal message to bring people together regardless of their backgrounds. (*)

This piece fully represents the writer’s idea. It does not express any ideas or stances of specific institutions or organizations she works at or is affiliated with.



Enriching discourse and understanding. A protest to Indonesian govt that unsuccessfully serves the world fair info about West Papua.

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The Wawawa Journal

Enriching discourse and understanding. A protest to Indonesian govt that unsuccessfully serves the world fair info about West Papua.