Some Filipinos online are finding similarities between the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games and a 2017 luxury music festival in the United States that turned out to be a major scam—the Fyre Festival.
Testimonies of bewildered volunteers, questions over items on the P7-billion hosting budget and unfinished construction of venues in the lead-up to the biennial multi-sport event have been making the news and social media threads before it officially started.
But It was only last weekend that the uproar became louder upon the arrival of foreign athletes.
Some athletes from Timor-Leste waited in the airport for “approximately three hours” before they were picked up, only to get taken to the wrong hotel.
About Timor Leste football team…today they was arrived at the airport in Manila City but i’m sorry I can’t remember in…
Athletes from Myanmar also waited for a long time in the airport before they got into the shuttle provided. They found their transportation below par, even calling it worse than “trucks” used in villages.
Myanmar🇲🇲 U22 Team has got some problems as soon as they get to Manila, Philipine.Myanmar Team has arrived to Manila,…
There were also pictures of alleged Cambodian athletes sleeping on hotel floors since their accommodations were not yet prepared.
Meanwhile, there were reports of Thailand players who did not receive enough drinking water and were offered “the same menu, over and over” again.
Some Filipino athletes were not spared from the logistical nightmare as well.
Football player Hali Long said that their team waited for more than two hours to be accommodated despite arriving on time.
Arrived to our SEAG hotel at 11:30 am. Rooms weren’t ready yet, so we ate lunch while they fixed our rooms. Instead of 2…
The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) has apologized for the logistical mishaps the foreign athletes encountered, saying the committee would “vow to do better.”
The Palace also issued an apology but said that such inconveniences were to be expected from major events and added it was “natural.”
Prompted by a criticism opposition lawmaker Sen. Franklin Drilon raised, Filipinos also questioned the P50-million price tag of the cauldron to be used at SEA Games’ opening ceremony.
Some suggested that the amount could’ve been used to fund athletes who have long faced issues on financial support.
Venues for the event have not yet been finished even though it will officially start a few days from now. According to the PHISGOC, only 50 out of 56 venues are considered ready for accommodation.
A user interface of an alleged mobile app for the event also drew flak for its design which reminded some of a “rushed” IT school project.
The series of problems has prompted some Twitter users to dub the games the “Fyre Festival of Asia.”
When the SEA Games issued started surfacing, I commented that this was going to be the sports version of Fyre Festival and that's exactly what happened. Not happy that this came true. I didn't want to be right, esp since the money that went to God knows where is public funds.
— Bluebuyog (@smurfette017) November 24, 2019
At first I thought the whole SEA Games = Fyre Festival thing was just a funny joke, but as it unfolds it's actually turning out to be true. And it's not funny at all.
In behalf of the country, I profusely apologize for our embarrassment of a government. 🤦♀️
— MJ Foz (@mjfozee) November 24, 2019
Im starting to think that this SEA Games will be the Fyre Festival of Asia 😬 https://t.co/SP265yUZ76
— luke (@LukeOliva_) November 24, 2019
The Fyre Festival promised attendees to have VIP experience on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas.
Supermodels and international music artists promoted the event that sold tickets costing up to $100,000. The amount was supposed to cover five-star accommodations and the experience of having “the best in food, art, music and adventure.”
More than 5,000 people expected to party with A-list stars and immerse in a glamorous vacation. Before the concertgoers were even flown to the venue, they experienced the opposite of luxury.
Reports note that attendees waited for several hours upon their arrivals in the airport, retrieved their luggage from a shipping container, were accommodated into makeshift tents, and offered cheese sandwiches instead of a gourmet meal.
There were also reports of Bahamas workers failing to receive their pay after tirelessly helping in the event’s preparations.
The organizers, rapper Ja Rule and businessman Billy McFarland, were sued for $100 million in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the event attendees.
However, Ja Rule was recently cleared of the charges since according to the judge, it was not proven whether his social media promotion had translated to ticket purchases or not.
Documentaries about what has been considered as the ultimate “millennial scam” were produced by streaming giants Netflix and Hulu.