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PHISGOC apologizes for problems before start of SEA Games

The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) on Sunday apologized to several international football teams after they encountered transportation and hotel arrangements problems upon their arrival in the country over the weekend.

Problems encountered by several men's national football teams circulated on social media Saturday, putting the country's hosting of the biennial meet to a bad start.

"We sincerely apologize to our athlete guests from Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Cambodia for the inconvenience caused to them by the confusion regarding their transportation and hotel arrangements," PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara said in a statement.

"While PHISGOC strives to ensure proper coordination of the arrival details, airport welcome and transportation provisions of all international teams to their respective assigned hotels, we acknowledge our shortcomings in this particular incident and vow to do better," he added.

The Timor-Leste football team had to wait for hours at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before their buses arrived, only to be shuttled to the wrong hotel.

According to PHISGOC's statement, the team was initially brought to the Century Park Hotel Manila, but the team's coordinator pointed out that some of the members were billeted at the nearby Hotel Jen.

Images of several Cambodian strikers resting on the floor of a room as they waited for their accommodations also went viral on social media.



PHISGOC said Cambodia team's change in arrival details were relayed late to the Games Services Department, the reason for their late accommodation.

"Instead of the arrival time initially relayed to PHISGOC, the Cambodian team arrived in NAIA at 4AM. Transportation was immediately provided, but since their hotel rooms were not yet available because the standard check-in time is 2PM , PHISGOC requested that the team be allowed to wait at an air-conditioned private hotel conference room with tables and chairs where the members could rest and feel comfortable while waiting for their rooms," PHISGOC said.

Century Park Hotel Manila on Sunday night aired its explanation on the problems raised by the Cambodia football team.

The hotel said the signed agreement with the organizers include standard check-in time at 2 p.m. It admitted it was aware that the Cambodia team will be arriving earlier than expected, but occupancy was full. 

The hotel offered the athletes its function rooms to serve as temporary holding area after breakfast. It also insisted on more chairs if needed, but the team declined.

"Rest assured that we continue to uphold our mission to provide a home away from home to all our guests. We will strive to make the SEA Games delegation’s stay a memorable one in the coming days," the hotel said.

Myanmar's football team also waited for a long time at the airport and complained that the bus that picked them up was “not comfortable.”

Meanwhile, defending champion Thailand had to cancel their first day of training due to delays in acquiring the athletes' identification cards at NAIA.

On Instagram, the team also cited heavy traffic within Metro Manila as a factor for the cancellation of their training.



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PHISGOC added that these incidents will be a constant reminder for them to be "more diligent."

The men's football games will kick off on Monday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The biennial meet will officially open on November 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. —KG, GMA News