- Unfinished presscon venue at Rizal Memorial Complex
- Lack of quality food—rice, kikiam for breakfast
- Alleged ‘pre-selection’ of skateboard athletes
- ‘These can’t continue any further’—Singapore official
Malacañang has warned organizers of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games to shape up or be held accountable following unfortunate events faced by arriving football teams from Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Thailand over the weekend.
“I’m sure they will do better in the next succeeding arrival of the other countries’ delegates and athletes. You need to learn from your mistakes,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“If not, maybe they should be held accountable,” he said. “The Office of the President is giving no excuses and, as host country, we’re apologizing for the inconvenience suffered by the athletes.”
On Monday, a fresh round of “horror” stories—from inadequate food to unfinished game and press conference venues—made the rounds on social media anew.
• Members of the international media faced accreditation challenges. They had to look for their IDs manually as these were not arranged alphabetically nor per country. “It’s terrible,” Indonesian journalist Sigid Kurniawan told ABS-CBN News.
• The venue for press conferences at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex remained unfinished as of yesterday even as football games have already started. The renovation of the sports complex itself has yet to be finished. The Thai football team on Monday held their training at a different venue due to unfinished bathrooms.
• The coaches of the women’s football team, in a press conference, disclosed the poor quality of their accommodation and food. “The quality and quantity of food are not enough. Like this morning, rice, kikiam, and eggs are not enough because they lack nutrients,” Philippine coach Let Dimzon said.
• Singapore chef de mission Juliana Seow, in a letter to the Philippine Sea Games Organizing Committee, raised several issues, including insufficient halal food for its athletes. “We urgently seek your urgent and immediate attention to address the situations we are facing. We had tried our best to be patient and understanding. As much as we had tried to resolve the situations ourselves as well as with our sports and you, these situations cannot continue any further as our athletes are badly affected and are not able to prepare for the games effectively.”
Arlene Trinidad, a national champion for skateboarding, claimed she was removed from the Philippine team for “exposing the truth” about how athletes were allegedly “pre-selected” and chosen over those who are really qualified.
Over the weekend, images of several Cambodian footballers resting on the floor of a function room as they wait for their hotel accommodation went viral.
Members of Myanmar’s football team, on the other hand, complained that the mini-bus that picked them up was cramped.
The East Timor football team was taken to the wrong hotel, complicating their arrival and training schedules.
Thailand’s team, the defending champion, complained on Instagram about the lack of rooms at the Sheraton Hotel, with three people occupying a room.
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“I think the organizers have learned their lessons. And I’m giving them tips. If there were delays, it’s easy. My God. Take them to a hotel. Transport? You need to have a back-up vehicle in case something happens,” Panelo said.
“It’s easy as that. That’s what you call creativity,” he added.
The Palace official, however, said the hitches occurred could not be avoided.
“These incidents, given the number of countries participating and the athletes coming here could not be avoided. There will be delays in the transport, in the checking-in, there will be some miscommunication,” Panelo said.
Senator Christopher Go, for his part, said he was ready to initiate a probe on the inefficiencies that hounded the SEA Games after the event.
“There is a right time for everything,” said Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports and a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
“Let us not resort to finger-pointing. But after the games, we will hold responsible those answerable,” he said.
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