Philippines vows ‘to do better’ after SEA Games gaffes
SEA Games hosts the Philippines apologised yesterday after some arriving athletes were left stranded for hours at the airport or were driven to the wrong hotel, a logistical snafu that drew criticism just days before the meet officially begins.
Athletes have begun flying into Manila ahead of Saturday's opening, but for Cambodia and Timor-Leste's football squads, the arrival was not what they were expecting, reported AFP.
"We had to wait maybe like eight, nine hours to get our hotel," Cambodia coach Felix Dalmas told a press conference yesterday, adding that they had also waited hours for the shuttle service.
Timor-Leste's team were driven to the wrong hotel, complicating their arrival and training schedules.
"All nations deserve respect and what happened yesterday was not so beautiful," said Timor-Leste coach Fabiano Flora.
The Philippines' SEA Games organising committee offered an explanation for the hiccups, putting the blame on a last-minute change in travel plans and the afternoon check-in time of the hotel.
"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."
Meanwhile, Thailand's football squad - which also waited for hours at the airport for the right documents - had to change their training plans because the hotel was too far from the venue.
Coach Akira Nishino said they opted to work out in the streets near the hotel instead of spending hours travelling.
Singapore's football coach Fandi Ahmad told The New Paper that he cancelled a training session and opted for some light stretching last Saturday because it would have taken over two hours' travel time for a venue that was booked for only one hour.
The Games, the first hosted by the Philippines since 2005, are expected to draw thousands of athletes, journalists and dignitaries over nearly two weeks.
These issue came as organisers were already under fire over a nearly US$1 million (S$1.4m) cauldron that will hold the Games' flame.
Critics said the money it cost to build the 50-metre cauldron at the main stadium in Clark, north of Manila, would have been better spent helping the nation's children and poor.
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DILENJIT SINGH