MANILA, Philippines – The 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is currently in the headlines after a string of miscommunications, alleged overspending, and a general lack of preparation leading to furious guests and overwhelming embarrassment for the Philippines, the event host.
If that description sounds familiar, then you're probably aware of a similar fiasco that became the talk of the town a few years back: the failed Fyre Festival.
As the first anecdotes of various football teams have come to light over the past few days, people online quickly compared the two different, albeit similarly-handled events.
gonna tell my cotton ball kids this was fyre festival pic.twitter.com/Q6zS0rl7pn — Pami PH (@pami_ph) November 21, 2019
Can't wait for the Fyre Festival esque Netflix feature documentary about this shit storm https://t.co/Ufo2OC2hrJ — River Cruz (@RiverCruisin) November 24, 2019
To those who are not aware, the Fyre Festival was set up to be a luxurious, Coachella-like concert experience at The Bahamas islands organized by businessman Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule.
It was meant to celebrate the launching of Fyre, a talent booking mobile app.
After banking on promises of top-notch accommodation attached with an exorbitant price tag, guests quickly gripped the reality that the Fyre Festival was just not ready on the day of the event.
And that is exactly what greeted the SEA Games athletes and media as the Games approaches its November 30 opening.
For starters, the football teams of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Timor-Leste were made to wait for hours for accommodation upon landing in the Philippines, causing missed practices and added exhaustion.
Myanmar football team coach Velizar Popov hopes "everything about the organization" of the #SEAGames2019"to be better" after encountering problems upon their arrival in the country. | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/tGYqEkVGMA — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) November 24, 2019
As was the case with Fyre, concertgoers were made to wait on a Bahamian restaurant for hours on end upon arrival only to be carted off to the now-infamous site of hurricane relief tents.
Need to figure out a way to turn the Fyre festival tent into a costume pic.twitter.com/OJFQA5vazD — Johnny Lieu (@Johnny_Lieu) February 19, 2019
Even local media practitioners complained of mistaken identities as the SEA Games media IDs were crammed to completion and messily distributed just this weekend.
Day passes were also given to local and international media who had yet to have their IDs completed even as some games were already set to begin.
#SEAGames2019 accreditation opened yesterday, November 23. But the media IDs weren’t available even though Polo, the first SEA Games event, will start later at 1pm. We were given day passes instead. [1/2] pic.twitter.com/0yW1gbtWzW — Bee Go (@beebeego09) November 24, 2019
As the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) led by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano scrambled to release apology statements and photo releases of completed sites, they were still hounded by more photos of unfinished sites that pop online.
#SEAGames2019 Media Centre at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium as posted by the Thai media. This is unacceptable! #2019SEAGames #SEAGamesfail pic.twitter.com/LACIdxyMKW — TwoCityTrails (@TwoCityTrails) November 25, 2019
Ruang konferensi pers cabang olahraga sepak bola di SEA Games 2019 hari ini. Mengenaskan. : Dipta Wahyu/Jawa Pos pic.twitter.com/ax5ZLfxaAf — A. Ainur Rohman (@ainurohman) November 25, 2019
Filipina tampaknya tidak begitu siap untuk menggelar SEA Games 2019. Stadion Rizal Memorial, yang merupakan satu di antara lokasi pertandingan cabang olahraga, sepakbola masih dalam proses penyelesaian akhir dari perbaikan yang dilakukan. https://t.co/RvxINiEsHC pic.twitter.com/12pfqIa0Ly — Goal Indonesia (@GOAL_ID) November 25, 2019
Scaffoldings and construction equipment surround the Rizal Memorial Complex even as the #SEAGames2019 football matches start on November 25. https://t.co/HA8o7YwSrv pic.twitter.com/y4HXF4UtKz — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) November 24, 2019
And yes, this was also the case with Fyre.
The documentary on netflix about the Fyre Festival is shocking - I mean, I worry about producing evenings of short plays in already existing venues & they made people pay thousands for an empty building site!!! pic.twitter.com/EVx96DTuJg — Karen (@ReallyMustYou) February 8, 2019
Couple Visits Fyre Festival Site To Film Aftermath & It's Still A F*cking Mess [VIDEO] - https://t.co/emVMgzI8y7 pic.twitter.com/fyJNqfOqc3 — Whats Poppin Music (@whatpopmusic) May 12, 2017
anyone tried checking in with concierge yet? #FyreFestival pic.twitter.com/lSmtGDnsQw — Cash Cash (@cashcash) April 28, 2017
Even the food served so far in the SEA Games has been Fyre-like, as elite football athletes were forced to make do with kikiam, egg, and rice just before their games start.
Yes, kikiam. The street food.
During the chaos of Fyre, a picture of a messed-up cheese sandwich served to guests erupted through the internet and developed a following that persists up to this day.
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/I8d0UlSNbd — Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
As of publishing, "kikiam" was the second-hottest Twitter trend in the Philippines.
They served KIKIAM????? #SEAGamesfail pic.twitter.com/57FK9T69ml — uNIC #SOGIEEqualityNow (@trinidadnichole) November 25, 2019
All this occurred after PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon "Tats" Suzara boldly declared that the Games was "150% ready."
However, the organizing group has since mellowed down to just looking at the positives with their statements as the Games struggles to get up and running.
The Fyre Festival hullabaloo ended spectacularly with the now 27-year-old McFarland being arrested for fraud and the Fyre brand practically being abandoned in the fallout.