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SEAG delegates praise Athletes Village, opening night

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Team Philippines athletes and officials march during the opening ceremony of the 30th SEA Games at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, on 30 November 2019. (AFP)

Despite various criticisms received by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) following its failure to resolve several issues, athletes and coaches from the member nations praised the facilities at the New Clark City Athletes Village in Tarlac.

Anisah Najihah Abdullah, a female silat athlete from Brunei, said the Village is impressive, and so is the Philippines’ ability to provide facilities for athletes and its sensitivity in providing halal food for Muslims.

“Although I stayed in Subic because the silat events are held there, yet I am impressed by the facilities available at the Athletes Village which could be said to be almost on par with the ones available at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, and even more important was the fact that it was easy for me to get halal food,” the Brunei athlete, who also lamented the traffic congestion, told Malaysia’s Bernama News.

Anisah Najihah is also confident that the Philippines is capable of resolving several problems which hindered the organizers and earned severe criticisms from local media.

Sharing a similar view was her male silat teammate, Muhd Isyraq Zulfadhli Ali, who also praised the halal food, gym and prayer room.

“From my point of view, I am very satisfied with the facilities available, besides the halal food which was provided for the Muslim athletes. It’s just that the journey from here to Manila takes quite some time because of the traffic congestion,” he said.

Echoing their sentiments was Philippine arnis coach Reignrose Esquira, who was pleased with the various accommodations provided at the Village.

“For me, it’s amazing to see many facilities being provided at this Athletes’ Village, and the food is also good and delicious, and the room space quite big despite even if only partially furnished. I don’t see any shortcomings in the facilities at the Village,” said Esquira.

Arnis women’s athlete L Sheilar Min Naing of Myanmar is likewise all praises for the New Clark City facilities and would rather not recall the problems they encountered upon arrival in Manila.

Singapore’s Straits Times, on the other hand, heaped praises on Saturday night’s opening ceremony at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

“It took just two hours to wipe away a week’s worth of bad headlines,” the Straits Times reported.

“The ceremony had lights, music and dance and left the capacity crowd in a festive mood, with those present smiling and dancing and waving the Philippine flag enthusiastically. The athletes’ parade was done in the style of a religious pageant, complete with beauty queens as muses of the participating countries.” (Bernama, Straits Times)

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