No Israeli athletes allowed, but Moovit app chosen for Asian Games in Indonesia

Israeli startup’s mobile guide to public transportation will help millions of fans get to sports competitions at event where Palestine is welcomed but Israel banned since 1981

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

People exercise next to a banner for the 2018 Asian Games during a car-free day in Jakarta on August 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / BAY ISMOYO)
People exercise next to a banner for the 2018 Asian Games during a car-free day in Jakarta on August 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / BAY ISMOYO)

Even though Israel has been banned from the Asian Games since 1981, an Israeli transit app will help teams and fans get to their sports destinations on time, using public transportation.

The crowdsourced public transportation app Moovit, created by an Israeli startup of the same name, has been chosen as the official mobility app for the Asian Games, also known as Asiad, to be held August 18-September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

The Asiad, held every four years, is hailed as the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics, with teams from 44 countries participating and three million fans expected to attend.

Israelis competed in the Asian Games from 1954 to 1974, but were banned by the Olympic Council of Asia in 1981. Palestine, however, is on the roster.

Moovit’s free public transit app is available on Android, iOS and the web, and has more than 200 million users in over 2,500 cities in 82 countries.

“Moovit has the most complete, up-to-date coverage of all modes of transit and lines in Jakarta & Palembang than any other provider,” a Moovit statement said, explaining why the Asiad Steering Committee chose the app.

During the games Moovit will send out notifications of all transit updates and changes, the statement said. The app provides real-time transit arrivals and directions, trip plans, service alerts and Get Off Alerts. The app can also be used by visually impaired users, as it has a voiceover/talkback feature, the statement said.

The Moovit app can be used in a variety of languages including Indonesian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, Thai, Bahai Malay, Tagalog, Korean, Hindi, Russian, and Arabic.

This is not the first time the startup’s app has been put to work at a major sporting event: Moovit was the official transit app for the city of Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics; the company collaborated with the UEFA EURO 2016 Fan Guide App to help soccer fans during that competition; and Italy’s AS Roma football club announced Moovit as its Global Mobility App Partner earlier this year. The company said it has partnered with more than 100 other events, venues and attractions worldwide to help their visitors and fans use public transit.

The startup was set up by Nir Erez in Tel Aviv in February 2012 together with Roy Bick and Yaron Evron. The company has raised $131.5 million to date from investors including Intel Capital and Sequoia Capital.

The company is aiming to cross the billion-user mark by 2021, and its vision is to “try and touch every urban ride in the future,” which it sees as 6-10 billion rides a day, Erez said in an interview with The Times of Israel in May.

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