Transportation snafus, bad traffic, and poor coordination greeted delegations from Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Thailand that arrived for the start of the 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s football competitions.
“We had to wait maybe like eight, nine hours to get our hotel,” Coach Felix Dalmas of Cambodia told a press conference Sunday, adding that they had also waited hours for the shuttle service. Their ordeal continued at their hotel, where they slept on the floor of a conference room because they were not allowed to check in before 2 p.m.
Images of several Cambodian footballers resting on the floor of a function room as they wait for their hotel accommodations also caused an uproar from Filipinos and neighboring ASEAN countries.
READ: 24-hour PNP hotline for SEA Games
Members of Myanmar’s football team were also made to wait “a very long time” at the airport and complained that the mini bus that picked them up were cramped.
The East Timor team waited three hours at the airport before they were driven to the wrong hotel, complicating their arrival and training schedules.
“All nations deserve respect and what happened yesterday was not so beautiful,” East Timor’s coach Fabiano Flora told reporters.
Thailand’s team, the defending champion, complained on Instagram about the lack of rooms at the Sheraton Hotel with three people occupying a room. Bad traffic had also forced them to cancel practice at the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna, about 38 kilometers away, because it would take more than two hours to get there.
Coach Akira Nishino said they opted to work out in the streets near the hotel instead of spending hours traveling.
Philippine officials apologized for the inconvenience.
“We sincerely apologize to our athlete guests from Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Cambodia for the inconvenience caused to them by the confusion regarding their transportation and hotel arrangements,” said officials of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
Cambodian chef de mission Nhan Sokvisal said they accepted the organizers’ apology.
“I understand what happened to my team. I thank the organizers. The problem has been solved. We hope to be able to work for the Games’ success,” Sokvisal said.
The Philippine Football Federation said it would get directly involved to address the needs of the many delegations that are already in Manila for matches beginning Monday.
Two matches have been scheduled at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium and at the Binan Field in Laguna. PFF president Mariano Araneta asked the SEA Games organizing committee to provide dedicated buses.
READ: Solons demand truce on SEA Games debate
“There are no dedicated buses for this,” Araneta said. “We have obligations as host of the Games. And FIFA [the International Football Federation] is concerned.”
The PHISGOC reported that there were 34 international arrivals on Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals, including seven sports team delegations, technical officials and representatives of the respective National Olympic Committees.
On Saturday, there were 38 arrivals in the NAIA terminals and five arrivals at the Clark International Airport.
The games, the first hosted by the Philippines since 2005, are expected to draw thousands of athletes, journalists and dignitaries over their nearly two-week run.
Smooth functioning logistics will be key to the success of the 56 sports spread across dozens of venues in and around Manila.
The hotel and pick up problems came as organizers were already under fire over a nearly $1 million cauldron that will hold the games’ flame.
Critics said the money it cost to build the 50-meter cauldron at the main stadium in Clark, north of Manila, would have been better spent building more classrooms.
The Palace also apologized for the inconvenience suffered by athletes arriving for the SEA Games.
“The Office of the President will not offer any excuses. As host country, we apologize for the unintentional inconvenience suffered by our athlete-guests,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“We are not promising that the Games will run without a hitch, given the countless athletes who will participate and represent their respective countries, but we will exercise due diligence in making sure everyone will have a pleasant, productive and memorable stay in the Philippines.”
Some SEA Games volunteers, meanwhile, took to social media to complain that they will not be compensated for their three-week work in the regional games.
Early this week, the P50-million stadium cauldron constructed for the SEA Games also drew flak for its cost.
Malacañang previously appealed to the public not to “prejudge” House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, head of the organizing committee, for what was dubbed an “Imeldific” stadium cauldron, a reference to Imelda Marcos, the former first lady known for her extravagance.
In Clark, Pampanga, about 200 private metered taxis were fielded to boost the transportation requirements of the coming 30th Southeast Games that will start on Nov. 30 up to Dec. 11 2019 here.
Called Blue Taxis will service thousands of visitors both local and foreign volunteers and others who will flock to Clark to see the 2020 games.
The opening ceremony will be at the Philippines Arena in Bocaue in Bulacan while the closing ceremony will be held in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac on Dec. 11.
Eleven nations are participating in the games with about 9,840 athletes in 539 events and 56 sports.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday offered his best wishes to Filipino athletes who will compete in the SEA Games.
“We wish all the participating athletes good luck and look forward to their excellent and hopefully world-record-breaking performances,” Panelo said. With AFP and PNA
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.