Alcohol-free Games Village leave officials high and dry

An alcohol-free zone is not a surprise considering Indonesia banned liquor sale from departmental stores in 2015, barring the tourist-heavy Bali province.

Complaints are also piling up over the size of the accommodation provided at the Games Village, which can house 3,000 athletes and officials.   -  Getty Images

The ‘no alcohol’ policy at the Asian Games Village has not gone down well with the coaches and officials travelling with the athletes.

Some have even tried to smuggle alcohol into the Village but with little success. An alcohol-free zone is not a surprise considering Indonesia banned liquor sale from departmental stores in 2015, barring the tourist-heavy Bali province.

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Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world.

“Only yesterday I saw whiskey bottles lying with the security guards at the Games Village. They are very strict about it. Though athletes don’t care much about the lack of alcohol, it is very normal to find a beer in the international zone of any major multi-sporting event including the Commonwealth Games this year,” a coach of the Indian contingent said.

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While alcohol is readily available in pubs and restaurants in co-host Jakarta, it is tough to find even a mild beer in the port city of Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province.

For those wanting to down a quick pint, the only way left is to step out of the sprawling Jakabaring Sport City, housing the Games’ venues as well the accommodation.

The hotels, where many technical officials are put up, are serving alcohol but at a higher price.

“We go out sometimes for a drink but it is quite a task since the Village is cut off from the city,” said another official staying at the Village.

Complaints are also piling up over the size of the accommodation provided at the Village, which can house 3,000 athletes and officials.

Athletes and officials say the rooms are small and claustrophobic.

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“The rooms everywhere are basic but talking about this place, I don’t think I have stayed in a Games Village which has smaller rooms than here. There is no place to even keep a suitcase. There is hardly space to take a shower in the bathroom,” said a member of the Indian shooting team.

Another athlete said the food quality was good at the start of the Games but has deteriorated since then.

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“Nobody is asking for a five-star facility but there should be some space to keep your belongings,” said the athlete.

Each room has three beds and a small bathroom.

Shooting, tennis, rowing, canoeing, beach volleyball, sports climbing and sepak takraw are among the sports staged in Palembang.