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Olympics and Indonesian Television

27 July 2012

According to an editorial in today’s Jakarta Post, people in Indonesia will not have any chance to see much of the Olympics on TV. Of course, Indonesians might be able to watch some events on YouTube … if they can tolerate the impossibly slow Internet connections that are par for the course here, in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Schedule and results page: Official London 2012 Olympics site.

Indonesian sports TV channels do spend big money to show European soccer, Formula One and MotoGP races, and boxing, according to the Jakarta Post editorial — but they don’t care about airing the Olympics, so they won’t be doing so. Neither will the big commercial networks here.

Instead, the modestly funded national broadcaster, TVRI:

will  broadcast Olympic coverage for 6 hours a day: 2 hours early in the morning and 2 more in the afternoon and evening. The final matches in soccer, tennis, basketball and badminton — the only sport in which Indonesia stands a chance of winning a gold medal — will also be aired live. (Source)

Everywhere around the world, people are inspired by watching the Olympic competitions. I don’t even care about sports most of the time, but I love watching the Olympics!

So I feel sorry for the majority of Indonesians, too poor to afford cable television, restricted by inadequate Internet access, shut out by a lack of TV reporting in the Indonesian language, and unable to join the rest of the world for two weeks of global togetherness.

No wonder the Indonesian teams won only 4 or 5 medals in each of the last two Olympics! And this is the fourth-largest country in the world, with a population of about 250 million.

But the bigger loss for Indonesian people is that they miss out on a kind of sharing that crosses international boundaries and tensions and even surmounts hatred. Watching the Olympics is a kind of learning experience for the soul, where sometimes you find yourself cheering for athletes from countries you never heard of because their stories are so compelling. It’s a grand pageant, a celebration of human achievement.

What a pity the Indonesian people can’t join in!

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