MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday, November 27, said the Philippines is actually “too hospitable” as host of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), unlike some previous host countries that reportedly left visiting teams to “fend” for themselves.
Sotto, an administration ally, made the statement amid mounting criticisms over problems in transportation and food for the athletes including the Philippine delegation, and competition facilities that have yet to be completed.
“We are too hospitable! In the SEA/Asian games I’ve participated in, we were left by the host country to fend for ourselves. If possible, they even make us uncomfortable to make sure we lose to them,” Sotto said in a message to reporters Wednesday.
Sotto was part of the Philippine team for Ten Pin Bowling. “A national team player 6 times and coach thrice,” the senator said.
Days before the formal opening on Saturday, November 30, the SEA Games was bogged down by logistical blunders, insufficient food for delegates, and venues racing to finish construction so close to the event.
Citing his personal experience, Sotto said: “Why do you think the host country always wins? The host country is not supposed to feed them etc etc etc. We spent for our meals and other expenses even lodging.”
“There are times when we should stop bickering about petty things!” he added.
Under the SEA Games Federation Rules, the host country “shall be responsible for the SEA Games and shall make all the necessary arrangements.”
The complaints, however, are not only based on food and accommodation problems but also on the areas where sports competitions would be held, as some remained unfinished days before the official opening of the games on Saturday.
Complaints of visiting teams and journalists, and even local volunteers on the situation on the ground just days before the opening of the games have been circulating on social media, tainting the Philippines’ image as a hospitable nation and its capacity to host the biennial sports competiton. (READ: Memes already winning in SEA Games 2019)
The incidents also further fueled criticism of the P50-million cauldron built just for the games.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself had expressed his displeasure at the way the event was being handled and wanted it probed, according to Malacañang.
The Philippines organizers have apologized for the mishaps. – Rappler.com