Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia, is also the sports capital of the nation. Located right in the heart of the metropolis by the grand Sudirman avenue is the Senayan Sports Complex, recently renamed the Bung Karno Sports Complex, or the Gelanggang Olah Raga Bung Karno in Bahasa Indonesia.
Built for the 1962 Asian Games by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, the complex is both a historical complex and a national pride. Not only is this sports complex an arena for athletes, it has also become a renowned venue for entertainment, exhibitions and conventions. High profile exhibitions and some of the legendary musical performances have taken place in this complex as it provides massive capacity and all facilities needed to stage such events, moreover, it is very centrally located and easily accessible for the public.
The first President of Indonesia, Soekarno, initiated its development by laying the cornerstone of the sports complex on February 8, 1960. The project was supported by the government of the former Soviet Union with a soft loan of US$ 12.5 million. Its construction took two years, and it was officially opened t on August 24, 1962.
The 689.38-acre sports complex was stunning. The first building to finish was the swimming complex that accommodates 8,000 spectators. Since its first operation in 1962, this building was renovated in 1988. Following the completion of the swimming complex, the tennis courts with seat capacity for 5,200 people were completed in December 1961.
The Training Football Field or locally named the Madya Football Stadium was completed at the same time as the tennis complex. Each sport venue in this large complex was completed on time, and these were: the Sports Palace or nationally known as Istana Olah Raga or Istora that was first used as an indoor multi-purpose sports venue to stage the International Badminton Tournament. Indonesia was then champion in the Thomas Cup. Next was the basket ball venue and also the Main Stadium, the main soccer arena complete with track-and-field facilities, a true sport’s palace known as Stadion Utama Gelora Bung Karno, one of the largest soccer stadiums in the world at the time.
As part of the venue, the official Indonesian Television Broadcasting Station (TVRI) was also completed on August 24, 1962. It was the first government television station and its construction in this sports complex marked the readiness of the government to broadcast the 4th Asian Games 1962 across the nation.
Construction did not stop at the grand event of the 1962 Asian Games. Buildings and facilities continued to grow to make the complex the sports capital of the nation. Gymnasium, fencing hall, and multi-purpose buildings were developed immediately. The grandness of the project attracted many to watch its process. As each facility was made ready for public use, thousands came to make the day their personal history.
During the New Order regime under President Soeharto, Indonesia’s second president, the name Bung Karno Sports Complex was changed to the Senayan Sports Complex, or Gelanggang Olah Raga Senayan with all the venues carrying the name ‘Senayan’. The long-ruling regime gave significant impact to the memory of the nation, since the sports complex is until today more familiarly known as Senayan, although the present government has reversed the name Senayan back to the Bung Karno Sports Complex.
Bung Karno Sports Complex is particularly huge in many aspects. Nonetheless, under the management of Yayasan Gelanggang Olah Raga Senayan (YGOS), the area shrunk to only 49% of its original size. The 51% of the area was utilized for government and commercial purposes. New buildings that house the offices of the Ministry for Forestry, Ministry for Education, the House of Representatives, and many other government-related buildings have grown here as part of the complex. The Hilton Hotel, which changed name to the Sultan Hotel, the Mulia Hotel, Atlet Century Park Hotel, the Plaza Senayan, and the Ratu Plaza malls are just some of the commercial buildings that are part of what was known as the Senayan Sports Complex.
Many national athletes competed here in hundreds of tournaments and competitions. Some succeeded to national level, and others soared to become international champions. The Asian Games, the South East Asian Games (SEA Games), and the National Sports Tournament and Competition (PON) were staged in this historic complex.
Boxing is another glorious sport and entertainment often held here. Some Sports legends who fought in this complex were: Mohammad Ali, Saoul Mamby, Thomas Americo, Ju Do Chun, Wayne Mulholland, Cesar Polanco, Dong Chun Lee, Khaosai Galaxy, Samuth Sitnaruepol, Nico Thomas, Elyas Pical, and Chris John.
This a comprehensive complex for international competitions from football, badminton, swimming and tennis to golf. Here is also the Jakarta International Convention Center complete with adjacent supporting hotels and Indonesia’s National Television station, TVRI.
Meanwhile, the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup among International Badminton Tournaments started to bring the name of Bung Karno Sport Complex to global attention. The first Thomas Cup and Uber Cup were held here in 1967 and six others in the following years. Many great Badminton players have etched their glorious reputation to the Bung Karno Sport Complex, among whom Indonesia’s own badminton legend, Rudy Hartono.
Aside from the many historical sporting events, the main stadium also holds great significance of Indonesia’s showbiz history as in 1975 it became the venue for the 2 days Deep Purple – a Rock Supergroup from England at the time – a concert which was attended by no less than 150,000 spectators. The concert is still dubbed as the biggest in Indonesia up to this date. Later, in 1988, it was Mick Jagger, lead singer of the legendary band The Rolling Stones who successfully entertained a 70,000 hysterical crowd in the main stadium. After years of absence, the main stadium again became the venue of great musical performances such as the Big Wave Festival featuring: Bad Religion, Yellowcard, and Panic at the Disco, and Linkin Park world tour concert in 2011.
Other most prominent shows and celebrities who have appeared at Istora Bung Karno or Istora Senayan are: the Jakarta International Java Soulnation Festival, the JakJazz Festival, Incubus, Maroon 5, N.E.R.D., Ne-Yo, Deftones, Bring Me the Horizon, and Bruno Mars.
Today the complex has grown into a renowned venue for international Conventions and Exhibitions. High profile exhibitions, events, shows and conferences have taken place in the Jakarta International Convention Center as it provides a grand auditorium, flexible format halls and easy access to stage such prestigious and popular events.
To get there, take a taxi from the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It takes around an hour’s drive from the airport, or 30 minutes from the Gambir Train Station at Monas, by the National Monument complex. Some of Jakarta’s deluxe hotels are in the vicinity.
Kantor Pusat Pengelolaan Komplek Gelora Bung Karno
(Bung Karno Sport Center Head Office)
– Address: Jalan Pintu Satu Senayan, Jakarta 10270
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