CAIRO - Sending an out-loud message for solidarity and unity, the third Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) has pulled the curtains with Indonesia occupying the top of medal standing in the international sports event.
The medals are not the main goal, but rather unity in diversity and solidarity among Islamic nations, South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin said during the closing ceremony at the Jakabaring Sports Center in Palembang, The Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday, October 2.
The 3rd Islamic Solidarity Games opened in Palembang on September 22, and wrapped up on Tuesday, October 1.
The closing ceremony was kicked out at 6:30 local time with a marching band, followed by a parade of athletes split into their respective sports.
After the speech by the governor and another by Youth and Sports Minister Roy Suryo, the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) flag was lowered to mark the end of the 11-day event, which began on Sept. 22.
ISSF president Prince Nawaf bin Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz handed the flag over to a representative from Azerbaijan, the games' next host in 2017.
Performances by several local bands entertained the audience, and a fireworks show capped off the ceremony.
Indonesia collected the most gold medals with 36 in the quadrennial multi-sport games attended by more than 3,000 athletes and officials from 44 OIC country members, competing in 13 sports.
The hosts added 35 silver medals and 34 bronze medals to their total hardware count.
Under such circumstances, with poor preparation and a three months' worth of salaries yet to be paid by the government, the athletes have given their best for their country, Hadi Wihardja, an official with Prima, the body in charge of preparing the team for the multi-sports event, told The Jakarta Globe.
Iran leapfrogged to second place in the final standings by amassing 30 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Egypt, which had followed Indonesia closely until the closing day, fell to third place in the medal count. Malaysia was fourth.
The two teams each garnered 26 gold medals, but Egypt prevailed in the silver medal count, 27 to 19.
Competing over the past two weeks, athletes from around the Muslim world have applauded Indonesia's success in the tournament.
Palembang is a nice city. Good people and the games were good too. Overall a good venue, said a taekwondo athlete from Senegal, Aboubacar Fall.
We faced no problems with accommodation, catering and hotels.
This games were very good. Palembang people are very good too. Thank you, Indonesia, said a Yemeni wushu athlete, Yousef Ali.
The ISG events ran smoothly and orderly. I was happy during my stay here. Palembang people are friendly, said an official from Algeria, Samir Mayana.
Minister Roy Suryo said the games boded well for Indonesia's next regional athletic challenge: the SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
We are grateful that Indonesia was the overall winner at the ISG, which is hopefully a good sign for the upcoming SEA Games, he said during a late-afternoon media conference ahead of the closing ceremony.
Held for the third time, the Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, multi-sport event which involves elite athletes of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The event featured 13 different sports including, athletics, basketball, equestrian, fencing, football, handball, karate, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting.
The Islamic Solidarity Games Federation (ISSF) is the organization that is responsible for the direction and control of the Islamic Solidarity Games.
The first event was held in 2005 in Saudi Arabia and there are currently 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Non-Muslim citizens in the member countries are also allowed to take part in the Games.
A second event, originally scheduled to take place in October 2009 in Iran, and later re-scheduled for April 2010, was canceled after a dispute arose between Iran and the Arab World over the use of the term Persian Gulf rather than Arab Gulf in logos for the Games.