The hosting of the Southeast Asian Games 2019 had been rife with problems from logistic issues, sudden removal of local athletes to errors in the identification cards of the media and staff.
Some of the foreign delegates and local news organizations shared these concerns via photos and videos on social media, which later earned online uproar.
The hashtag #SEAGames2019fail immediately trended on Twitter. Others even likened the situation to the Fyre Festival, a failed Coachella-like music concert at The Bahamas Islands.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, also the current chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Committee, blamed these on the delay of the budget for the event, citing Senate leader Franklin Drilon whom he alleged was also partly at fault.
Cayetano also mentioned Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero who previously accused Drilon of causing the delay of the 2019 budget.
“Tama ‘yung sinabi ni Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, it was Senator Drilon who moved the budget of the SEA Games to the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and it was (him) who proposed cutting it by 33 percent,” Cayetano said.
These explanations came after Cayetano and President Rodrigo Duterte defended the P50-million cost of the cauldron in New Clark City in Tarlac over the past weeks, citing the design to be the work of National Artist Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa.
Some social media users, however, identified that the concept might have been a mere repurposing of an earlier concept of a tower that remained on paper.
What foreign teams are venting about
Foreign teams from Cambodia, East Timor and Vietnam experienced hours-long delays at the airport and accommodation and had to adjust to sudden schedule changes when they arrived here ahead of the games this week. Media outlets overseas reported on their national teams’ experiences.
Cayetano apologized when he personally met some of them and vowed better services in the coming days.
“Handang handa tayo na magbigay ng world class hosting, but even in world class hostings, tao tayo. Hindi perfect. Doon sa 75 arrivals, a great majority, 95 percent ay medyo natutuwa. For $50 a day, ang gaganda ng hotel na titirahan nila,” he said.
Dropping of local athletes
Decorated Filipino karateka James De Los Santos and skateboarder Arianne Mae Trinidad aired their sentiments after being removed from the SEA Games lineup.
De Los Santos wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that a decision had already been made even before he started his performance, which resulted in his exclusion from the national team.
Trinidad, also known as Kiddo, similarly decried her removal from the roster of local athletes. She was allegedly replaced with “handpicked” skateboarders.
She also mentioned that a participant named CL Paje, also a national champion, was also excluded from the competition without proper explanation.
Late completion of venues
Photos and videos of unfinished venues supposed to be used for the sports derbies starting this week also earned their share of criticisms online.
One of these locations is the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. A reporter from a news outlet in Malaysia even covered the ongoing constructions amid the arrival of the athletes for the opening tournaments.
A cubicle in one of the women’s bathrooms at the stadium also has two toilets, a photo of which also circulated online.
— Ethel Booba (@IamEthylGabison) November 25, 2019
Last November 24, Ramon Suzara of the games committee said only four or three venues such as the Rizal stadium needed more time to get fixed.
The opening ceremony for the SEA games is on Saturday, November 30.
The team coach for the Philippine women’s football team bared to reporters that the quantity and the variety of food served to them were not enough.
“I’m not sure kung paano ang arrangement ng PHISGOC, but the quality and quantity of food are not enough. Sa variety din, like for this morning, hindi enough ‘yung rice and kikiam and egg. Walang nutrients,” Coach Let Dimzon said.
She joined other coaches from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar who also shared their complaints at a press conference ahead of the football competition.
The words “kikiam and egg” later made it to the trending list on Twitter.
We’re serving our country’s best athletes KIKIAM AND EGG, everyone. https://t.co/RxJDLSIYXI
— Miguel Poblador (@MiguelPoblador) November 25, 2019
Singapore chef de mission Juliana Seow also lamented on the lack of halal food for Muslim athletes.
Similarly, the Thailand Football Association ordered additional Thai food for their athletes and coaches until the competition ends due to the repetitive menu served to them.
Initial problems in IDs and the warehouse media center
Media practitioners covering the games from local and foreign outfits also encountered mixups such as mistaken identities for their IDs and messy distribution of day passes.
One press conference was also set in an unfinished warehouse without much ventilation.
World-class SEA Games media center!!!#BestCoverageEver
GMA reporters Mariz Umali and Raffy Tima just laughed off the IDs issued to them wherein a photo of Tima was used for both of their cards with the same name: “Mariz Tima.”
Atleast pati sa ID, conjugal tayo mahal ahihihi 🥰😍😂 https://t.co/WqyCmvTmvq
— Mariz Umali (@marizumali) November 25, 2019
A number of these blunders have already been fixed as of press time. The press conference was moved to an airconditioned venue at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
A larger, more permanent media center was also set up at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.