The second official World Beach Games are supposed to take place in early August. The Indonesian government banned the Beach Olympics shortly before it began, apparently due to insufficient funding. In fact, the reasons may be political.
The Indonesian island of Bali is famous for its beaches and hospitality that has been attracting tourists like a magnet for years. At the beginning of August, in addition to the holidays, there was supposed to be a struggle for medals in 14 sports.
But just before the start, the World Beach Games were cancelled. Since the cancellation by the Indonesian Olympic Committee came on such short notice, the Games cannot be moved to another location and must be canceled outright. Meanwhile, speculation rages about the causes and blame is being shifted.
What are the World Beach Games?
The World Beach Games are a type of Beach Olympic Games organized by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC). ANOC is an association of all recognized National Olympic Committees. The 2019 World Beach Games were held for the first time in Doha, Qatar. The games were supposed to be held every two years, but were suspended after the first event due to the pandemic.
In the summer of 2022, it was announced that the Indonesian island of Bali would be awarded the next edition in the following year.
Denmark plays Hungary in Beach Handball, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. Photo: www.imago-images.de
The World Beach Games aim to provide a grand stage for as many non-Olympic sports as possible. The focus is on the beach and water sports, including beach soccer (beach soccer), beach volleyball (four on four), beach handball, beach tennis, water polo, water skiing, aquathlon, and open water swimming.
Of course, beach soccer is also a part of it: Brazil play Russia, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. Photo: Imago
Why was the Bali Games canceled?
However, ANOC announced on July 4: “It was a great surprise and disappointment to learn that the Indonesian Olympic Committee has withdrawn from its commitment to host the ANOC World Beach Games and the ANOC General Assembly in August 2023.”
Due to the Games being held within a month, the commission said, this late decision prevented the commission from finding another host. So there will be no choice but to cancel this year’s version of the games.
what is the reason? officially the budget. ANOC said it was told at the last minute that the Indonesian Olympic Committee would cancel the Beach Olympics “after the country’s government did not approve the budget and now there is no time left to organize the Games.”
What’s behind it?
Indonesia is not the first country and probably not the last to cancel an international sporting event because it cannot afford the budget. Something similar happened in France, for similar reasons, in the country to host the Rugby World Cup in 2025.
However, the timing of the decision raises questions – especially since ANOC, according to its own statements, has been regularly assured by the Indonesian Olympic Committee that “solutions will be found and the Games will be held as planned”. They met just last week for the weekly coordination meeting.
Now there is speculation that the real reason could be political in nature. Local media suspect that Bali was not the Indonesian state that prevented the Games from taking place. The governor of Bali, Ian Koster, was not prepared to receive an Israeli delegation because Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. Israeli athletes qualified for the World Beach Games in the open swimming and 3×3 basketball competitions.
Bali’s governor, Ian Costa, during Emmanuel Macron’s visit on the occasion of the G20 summit in November 2022. Image: Cornerstone/epa
Koster himself denied the rumors and blamed the Indonesian Olympic Committee, which, on the other hand, justified the cancellation with a lack of funding from the state. For his part, Indonesia’s Youth and Sports Minister Dito Aryutdijo rejected allegations that the central government failed to provide financial guarantees for the World Beach Games.
However, rumors of the cancellation had been circulating for a few weeks. This was fueled by the Indonesian Football Association’s refusal to hold the draw for the beach soccer tournament. And as recently as April, the governor of Bali publicly stated that he would not accept the presence of an Israeli team. Later Costa collapsed a bit, which he publicly committed to implement.
We are extremely disappointed that Indonesia has decided to withdraw from hosting the World Beach Games.
Just 3 months ago, the country missed the opportunity to host the Under-20 Football Championship due to its refusal to receive Israeli athletes.
Sport should not be a platform for … https://t.co/urk4Qv5dfy
– American Jewish Committee (AJCGlobal) July 5, 2023
For the American Jewish Committee, the reasons for the cancellation are clear.
It wouldn’t be the first time that relations between Muslim-majority Indonesia and Israel have led to a sports scandal: the refusal to allow the Israeli national team into the country cost Indonesia hosting the U-20 World Cup in March. FIFA stripped the country of hosting the World Cup just two months before its start and handed it over to Argentina.
The fact is that 1,600 athletes from nearly 100 countries will be competing in 14 beach and water sports in August. You should stay home now. It is not currently clear if and how the World Beach Games will continue. The ANOC General Assembly was also cancelled, as other dates were to be discussed.
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