Commentary Sports

In many respects, the games could have been better

sea-games

Syndicated News
Written by Syndicated News
 

 

Journalist/blogger Haresh Deol takes a look at the recently concluded KL SEA Games and found many operational shortcomings.
 
145 gold medals
 

It’s the best Team Malaysia has ever achieved since the inception of the SEAP Games in 1959.

 
The 29th edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur ended yesterday August 30). The opening ceremony dazzled those at the stands and viewers at home while the performances during the closing ceremony jogged plenty of musical memories to many.
 
Our athletes, the real superheroes, brought smiles through their heroic display. They made everyday a happy day.
A majestic shot of Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin by Ghazali Kori (Harian Metro).

Kudos to the officials – from the coaches, the National Sports Institute and National Sports Council – for their hard work in ensuring our athletes perform to their best.

 
But it was not all memorable.
 
 
A bus ferrying karate officials apparently “got lost” and the event had to be delayed. Members of the press were surprised to see the lack of security at the International Broadcasting Centre.
 
The Bangkok Post, in its rather fair editorial, took a swipe at not only the organisers but also took the Thai officials to task.

The article also indirectly suggests for the need to end the inclusion of sports that only favour the host nation – something the SEA Games Federation will need to deliberate in a bid to move forward.

 
Back to KL2017. If I were to be the youth and sports minister, I would like to know:

1. Why were the accreditation cards given out late?

- a media liaison officer based at a venue only obtained the accreditation card days before the event started. Volunteers and members of the SEA Games Arbitration Committee also got their cards just days before competition started.
- those who received accreditation cards had posted pictures of it on social media. If the passes were given out earlier, such postings would have created further hype for the Games.
2. Why results were not disseminated immediately?
- results for some events (archery, gymnastics) were given out and posted online 12 hours later.
- in 2001 (where most offices were using dial-ups) and the 2007 editions – two Games which I covered – there were no mobile phone applications or fancy websites but results were available almost instantaneously.
 
3. Why weren’t television graphics provided to the broadcasters?
- perhaps the appointed vendor can answer this question.
 
4. Why wasn’t the official souvenir books, given out to VIPs during opening ceremony, vetted – resulting the embarrassing Indonesian flag boo-boo?
 
- it takes more than one pair of eyes to check details. I’ve worked in newsrooms, I know.
 
Athletes from Indonesia, and not Poland, compete in the SEA Games.
 
5. Why was there a change of venue in the last minute? (eg. Pencak Silat) Why was the squash court “too slippery”?
 
- didn’t the organisers anticipate a large crowd? Rather disrespectful to say the sport doesn’t have a large following only to realise otherwise later.
 
- didn’t anyone check the all-glass court at the National Squash Centre prior the Games? 
 
6. Why weren’t technical and media guides made available? Also, why weren’t much thought put into areas where members of the Press interview athletes?
 
- it is a norm at every games to hand out technical details of various sports which come in handy especially when ‘controversial calls’ are made.
 
- Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin visited the National Aquatics Centre and saw first hand how members of the press were unable to interview athletes and ensured the space to interview athletes be made bigger.
 
Just don’t understand why the minister was forced to step in when this could have been easily sorted out by his underlings.

My tweet on Aug 19.

7. Is it true efforts were made to ensure national cyclist Azizulhasni Awang win the 111th gold medal when it should have been his compatriot Fatehah Mustapa?

 
- perhaps those at the venue on that day can shed some light.
 
8. Did the organising committee speak to Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad — former National Sports Council director general who engineered the 1989, 2001 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and the 1998 Commonwealth Games?


Mazlan used to regularly brief former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad of the progress of the construction of venues, issues faced by the organising committee and preparation of athletes ahead of the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
 
9. It seems the Olympic Council of Malaysia was also sidelined from KL2017. If so, why – as they have the likes of Datuk Sieh Kok Chi who could have provided his valuable insights in the hosting of multi-sports event.
 
10. The tickets for the men’s football final between Malaysia and Thailand was not sold online angering fans who lived outside the Klang Valley. Khairy tweeted “the online payment gateway provider could not guarantee a stable process because of volume.” 
 
- the provider did not anticipate that Malaysia will enter the final? They didn’t expect a big crowd at the stadium regardless who played in the final? Gentle reminder, it’s 2017.
 
Major sporting events, including the Olympics and World Cup, face hiccups but the issues seen throughout KL2017 were simply unacceptable.
 
A post-mortem must be conducted to find out how and why we got the basics wrong throughout KL2017.

As I repeatedly said throughout my 12 days on Astro Arena: “Mereka yang bertanggungjawab, silalah JAWAB.”

 
One thing this SEA Games has taught us:
We have many talents who could have and were willing to advise and assist the organising committee to make this SEA Games the best ever. But these talented Malaysians were ignored by incompetent officials. And this resulted the nation to suffer a bruised image.
 
By the way, Monday September 4 is a public holiday.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

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