Asia Pacific

Indonesian president joins 65,000 dancers at event to promote Asian Games


President Joko Widodo led some 65,000 compatriots in a mass dance through the streets of Jakarta on Sunday to promote the Asian Games and try to set a world record along the way.

Jakarta and the city of Palembang on Sumatra will jointly host Asia’s biggest sporting event from Aug. 18 but Widodo has previously complained about the lack of promotion and enthusiasm in the country.

In a bid to drum up support ahead of the games authorities turned to the poco-poco, a traditional line dance from North Sulawesi province.

Dressed in white and red — the color of the Indonesian flag — President Widodo, his wife Iriana, and several high ranking officials led tens of thousands of Indonesians in a long, snaking line of dancers through the capital.

Organizers hoped to break the world record for the largest number of people performing the traditional dance in one place and said 65,000 people took part in Jakarta.

“Poco-poco is the original culture of Indonesia and it’s a native dance, so we are now performing a mass Poco-poco dance with 65,000 people setting the world record showing and reiterating Poco-poco belongs to Indonesia,” police chief Tito Karnavian, who took part in the event, said.

Police and military staff, members of parliament, students, members of fitness centers as well as inmates in jails across Indonesia all showed their best Poco-poco moves at the same time.

“This a very good opportunity to show that Indonesia is conserving its traditions,” high school student Raja Farid Akbar said. “I am happy that I can help promote a tradition that could have been forgotten.”

About 11,000 athletes and 5,000 officials from 45 Asian countries are expected to flock to Jakarta and Palembang for the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 games, the world’s biggest multisport event behind the Olympics.