SEAG-bound PH bets told: Expect the unexpected
MANILA, Philippines - The chef-de-mission of the Philippine delegation to the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar yesterday tried to paint a picture of the coming event.
It wasn’t rosy at all.
“Expect the unexpected,” said Jeff Tamayo, a retired military officer and now second vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Tamayo recently visited Myanmar which will hold 460 events in 33 disciplines in Naypyidaw, the new capital, Yangon and Mandalay, from Dec. 11 to 22.
Only women’s football will be played in Mandalay and five or six events in Yangon. Naypyidaw, at least four hours by bus from Yangon, will be the main hub.
Tamayo also reported that the deadline for the submission of the final entry by names for all competing countries is on Oct. 10.
Tamayo was in Naypyidaw and he said while there’s no problem with the facilities and the athletes’ housing, there are some major concerns.
He referred to them as “choke points” and “critical control points.”
Tamayo, who heads the Philippine Soft Tennis Association, sees potential problems with the language barrier, food, transportation and communication.
“Naypyidaw is like a rice field and despite the new infrastructure, it’s hardly populated. Wala pang tao. There’s no public transportation,” he said with amazement.
Tamayo said instead of an athletes’ village, the close to 5,000 participants will stay in a cluster of houses which look more like a military camp. The good thing though is they are located near the venues.
“There are no malls except for one which is just a bigger version of the 7-Eleven. And the language barrier is there. In short, participation or performance is the only reason to go there,” he said.
Tamayo said while he was there, the liaison officer (LO) assigned to him was a dentist and while the latter studied dentistry in English, it was still difficult to communicate.
There’s also a concern for communication because Philippine mobile phones won’t work in Myanmar unless you shell out around $100 for a local SIM card.
“Knowing our athletes who are so used to their cellular phones, their iPads or iPhones, not being able to use them might cause them some stress,” said Tamayo.
To address the situation, he plans to meet with the different national sports associations starting today to give them a hint of what to expect.
“I want them to anticipate the environment they are getting into. Don’t expect anything like Japan, Korea or Chinese-Taipei. This is different. With communication and basic services there is much to be desired,” he said.
Even the public hotels are very limited for the members of the Philippine delegation who will not stay with the athletes.
“Gastroenteritis is also a common thing there. I advice our athletes and coaches to bring your own (comfort) food and lots of Yakult, probiotics or power bars. Magdala na kayo,” Tamayo said.
Getting to Myanmar alone is not easy. From Manila, you fly to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Bangkok for another 70-minute flight to Yangon and another 45-minute flight to Naypyidaw.
“If you take the bus from Yangon it’s four to five hours,” said Tamayo.