MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— Organizers of the 30th Southeast Asian Games issued apologies on Sunday morning after several complaints were made by football teams from Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Thailand ahead of the competition.
The football teams of Myanmar and Timor-Leste complained about their long wait from the airport, with the latter squad also saying they were eventually brought to the wrong hotel.
The Thailand football team, meanwhile, complained of accreditation and accommodation issues, and said they were unable to practice due to the venue being too far away from their hotel.
There were also reports that the rooms for the Cambodian team were not yet ready when they arrived at their hotel.
“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,” the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) 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."
According to PHISGOC, they were able to send the Timor-Leste team to the nearby Hotel Jen, after they were mistakenly sent to Century Hotel at first.
“As to the Cambodian football team, their change in arrival details was relayed late to the PHISGOC Games Services Department,” said PHISGOC.
It said transportation was "immediately provided" but it requested the team to be allowed to wait in a private hotel conference room because they arrived ahead of the standard check-in time of 2 p.m.
As for Thailand, PHISGOC chief operating officer Ramon Suzara said the committee is addressing accreditation issues "one-by-one" and that 80 to 90 percent have already been given to National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
"The majority of accreditation was already given to the NOCs in advance, there are just some missing accreditations that the NOCs have to collect," he told ANC.
"This happens even in other games, in the Olympic games we have to wait 2 hours to get the accreditation cards."
PHISGOC further maintained that other arrivals, 75 as of Saturday, “have gone off without a hitch.”
"The incident with the two teams remains a constant reminder for us as organizers to be more diligent. We owe it to our guests and our countrymen," it said.
Cambodia Football coach Felix Dalmas, in a press briefing Sunday, said it was "time to move on and focus on the soccer."
"Things happen and we just had to wait a few hours to get picked up, it wasn’t ideal. Things happen, we’re ready for this. We adjust and we evolve and that’s one of the qualities of our team. The guys just took it with the best spirit so we’re good," he said.
Myanmar Football coach Velizar Popov said they were "not happy with some things" in their arrival but said these were "not the most important."
"If you start looking for excuses from the first day, you will find it always. We are here for our target and we are determined to do," he said.
Timor Leste Football coach Fabiano Flora said he hopes that the hitches would not happen again.
"All nations deserve respect and what happened yesterday was not so beautiful. It’s okay, it happened, it's finished. Now we just focus on games," he said.
The football tournament in the SEA Games begins on Monday, with the event officially set to open on November 30.