Singapore asks Philippines to ‘immediately act’ on SEA Games issues

Sofia Tomacruz
Singapore asks Philippines to ‘immediately act’ on SEA Games issues

LeAnne Jazul

'While we try our best to be patient and understanding, we cannot make any compromise when our athletes are affected directly,' chef de mission Juliana Seow writes PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara

MANILA, Philippines – In another blow to the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), Singapore’s chef de mission Juliana Seow urged the Philippines to “immediately act” on logistical issues which threatened athletes’ performance in the run up to the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In a letter published by Singaporean news outlet, The Straits Times, on Monday, November 25, Seow called attention to the subpar service and coordination on the part of PHISGOC with regards to players’ transportation, accreditation, and the availability of food.

“We request for your urgent and immediate attention to these matters. While we try our best to be patient and understanding, we cannot make any compromise when our athletes are affected directly,” Seow told PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara on Sunday, November 24.

“We implore you to address these situations now and we look forward to seeing positive action from your side.”

What were the problems?

Like Timor Leste, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia’s teams, Singapore’s players faced problems as soon as they landed in the Philippines.

These included accreditation centers unready to receive delegations, the lack of vehicles to transport teams from the airport to their accommodations and sports venues, and starving athletes.

Seow said Singapore teams had to make do by ordering their own food to ensure it was both halal and nutritious and using their own vehicles to move around.

“We cannot accept this level of service…. We had really tried to do this by ourselves and as more teams come, we really cannot be doing everything by ourselves,” Seow said in her letter.

Why this matters

As inadequate preparations continue to hound the SEA Games days before its official opening ceremonies on November 30, both foreign and the Philippines’ national players are bearing the brunt of PHISGOC’s poor planning.

Subpar services have forced coaches of international teams to speak out, saying the lack of sufficient food and coordination for transportation to and from practice venues threatened players’ perfomance.

Meanwhile, several SEA Games venues remain unfinished days before the event officially opens.

The obstacles faced by teams from the Assocaition of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) come as SEA Games officials remain under fire in Congress over the sporting event’s budget and “extravagant spending.” – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.