The 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will kick off in the Philippines this Saturday, 30 November, but it seems to be off to a bad start already
On 24 November, local organisers issued an apology for the mishaps that happened to foreign teams who arrived in the Philippines in preparation for the games.
"We can no longer undo what has been done. The Office of the President will not offer any excuses," said spokesperson Salvador Panelo, according to Rappler.
"We sincerely apologise to our athlete guests... for the inconvenience caused to them by the confusion," the committee said in a statement.
"We... vow to do better."
Some of the problems the athletes faced were poor transportation, miscommunication by volunteers, unfinished venues, and hotel issues
Several football teams waited for hours at the airport, were shuttled to the wrong hotels, and had to wait up to nine hours for hotels to prepare their rooms because they were not ready.
The Thai football team reportedly endured hours in traffic to get to their accommodation and then discovered that their practice field was located hours away from their hotel. The coach had to delay the practice and get the team to stretch at the hotel area.
There were also numerous issues with the athletes' food, from "insufficient halal food" to providing "street snacks" as meals
The country's own women's football team coach claimed that they were only fed rice, egg, and kikiam (a street food snack).
The hotel, however, clarified that they had served chicken sausages, not kikiam, and had an omelette station, fresh fruits, bread, rice, and fresh fruit juices.
"We hope this statement is able to correct misrepresentations on Filipino hospitality and that we are doing our best to ensure above-and-beyond service for our athletes as well as our guests from all over Southeast Asia," the statement read.
As a result of all the chaos, people have been comparing this year's SEA Games to the infamous 'Fyre Festival', a fraud music festival in 2017
The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee (PHISGOC) cited several reasons for the issues
One of it being that a change in arrival details was relayed late to the organisers.
They noted that 75 international arrivals in the past two days went smoothly. However, PHISGOC said that the recent incidents were a good reminder for organisers "to be more diligent”.
"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," said Panelo, as reported by The Manila Times.
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