BEFORE the StarSport team landed in the Philippines, there have been some chaotic incidences which led to the question whether the hosts are capable of staging the biggest sports event in the region.
From logistics and accommodation snafus to the less than appetising food served, the foreign media were quick to pounce on the shortcomings.
But from my observation, I can see that the Philippines SEA Games Organising Committee (PhilSoc) are really trying their best to put everything in order and to make sure everyone returns home with only warm memories.
This situation was similar to what happened when the Filipinos hosted the Games in 2005.
There were complaints and grumblings too but in the end all the shortcomings were ironed out and the hosts went on to achieve their target of becoming the overall champions for the first time.
I was bracing for the worst when I arrived with several athletes from other countries at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
There were greetings of Mabuhay (welcome) with a garland made of beads given to everyone from the media to athletes as a band played Philippines folk music at the arrival hall.
Processing of the athletes at the immigration post was smooth and orderly and it is these first impression that shows they are making their best efforts to put on a good show.
After all, they are not novices as they have hosted the Games in 1981 and 1991.
Unfortunately, this is the era of social media and things tend to be blown out of proportion.
For example, one recent report stated that Muslim athletes in the Singapore contingent were served non-halal food but it turned out not to be the case.
Thankfully, the Singapore Olympic Council came to the defence of the Philippines organisers by asking the report to be retracted.
For me, it’s simple. It’s better to lower our expectations as it’s normal for any hosts to face teething problems at the start of any Games.
It’s akin to a football match as players need time to settle down.
Let’s give Philippines a chance to show that they are good hosts.
After all, this is what the SEA Games is all about. Not just about sporting rivalry but friendship between Asean neighbours.
On another note, let’s hope it will be good news for Malaysia when the polo team play the hosts in the final on Sunday.
We lost to them in the round robin group stage earlier but I’m sure our players will be motivated to win the first gold for the country. That will set the right tone for Malaysia in the pursuit of a 70-gold medal target.
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