Officials in Indonesia have been harping on about making Bali a sports tourism destination, yet an international athlete had to make a big fuss online before he could hope of receiving the prize money he was promised after running a marathon on the Island of Gods.
Twenty-four-year-old Jack Ahearn, who splits his time between his native country Australia and Bali, alleged in his Instagram stories that went viral yesterday that, after winning the international men’s category at the inaugural Indonesia International Marathon (IIM) in Bali on June 26, he is yet to receive his prize money.
Ahearn posted a photo from the event, showing his medal and certificate stating his IDR150,000,000 (US$10,100) prize money.
According to Ahearn in his social media posts, the organizers ghosted him for two months and even blocked his calls. As a “last resort,” he then went on social media asking his friends and communities to help him seek answers from IIM organizers, the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI).
In a follow up post, Ahearn said that while he was promised IDR150,000,000, he learned that he would only receive IDR50,000,000 (US3,400) before taxes from KONI. Ahearn shared a letter from KONI informing him of the new reward amount on Instagram.
Ahearn’s posts have since been widely shared and reposted around social media, with people tagging the marathon event and KONI urging them to hear out Ahearn and other winners alleged wholy also did not receive their money.
Coconuts Bali contacted Ahearn today, who said he simply wants to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
“I don’t feel robbed, [I would] just like to solve the problem so we can all move on,” Ahearn explained.
“I have had communication [from IM’s race management and KONI that it will be solved today,” he added
As a mental health advocate, Ahearn explained that the prize money will be donated to Shuffle and Strides, an organization trying to destigmatize mental health issues. Ahearn has also been involved in various fundraising activities to help local NGOs, such as Bali Bersama Bisa, in a bid to provide better mental health services on the island.
In another follow-up Instagram story that was uploaded earlier today, Ahearn clarified that the remaining IDR100,000,000 (US$6,700) was not the responsibility of KONI, but that of the event’s promoters.
“It is not the fault of KONI, IIM race management or any related sponsors of the event. I did not expect this to reach so many people and [I] want to apologize to any brands or individuals harmed when they did not play a role in the payment issue,” Ahearn said.
At any rate, the viral story may hamper the government’s desire to boost Bali’s allure for major sporting events and for sports tourism in general.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, an avid runner who has repeatedly encouraged sporting tourism in Bali, has taken notice of the situation.
“We saw the posts and after some clarification, it turned out the organizer was having problems with collecting the funds,” Sandiaga explained yesterday.
He elaborated that the local winners of the marathon have already received their prizes, while the international winners’ prizes are still being processed.
“As of late, two international winners have not been gifted yet. One of them gave incorrect bank information, and another had an inquiry about the amount of money promised and received,” Sandiaga said.
Sandiaga promised that the event organizers are working to get this situation resolved.
“This situation will be monitored, as we want to uphold the nation’s good reputation for sports tourism,” he said.
As Bali is once again open for tourism following a pandemic bust, it isn’t surprising that Sandiaga has been proactive in the island’s affairs. Yesterday, he condemned a man who was caught secretly filming a woman in her swimsuit.