SEA Games 2015 has finally come to an end with the closing ceremony held at Sports Hub on Tuesday evening.
As fireworks exploded into the sky from the arena, thousands of fuming ticket holders felt like imploding outside the gate of the Sports Hub's arena, a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the closing ceremony taking place inside.
In what appears to be a result of overselling tickets and poor management, scenes of chaos erupted outside the Sports Hub last evening as thousands of people who bought tickets were denied entry into the Stadium.
Many who spent as much as $40 buying the highly coveted tickets were disappointed and angry that they couldn't enter the Sports Hub to attend the closing ceremony.
On the other hand, some volunteers and complimentary ticket holders were able to get seats.
Tickets for the closing ceremony, according to Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC’s) chief of community and corporate outreach, Toh Boon Yi, were sold out for some time before the SEA Games even started.
However, since that statement was made, it was also revealed that apart from the spectators who bought the tickets, there were also two other groups of people who could enter the stadium.
The first group were the SEA Games Volunteers - who could enter by flashing their accreditation passes. The second group were people holding complimentary tickets from sponsors like NTUC.
Disappointment, Anger and Calls for Refunds
Soon after the Ceremony, SINGSOC made the following announcement on their Facebook page.
The statement acknowledged that there were spectators who were unable to be seated for the show and apologised for the inconvenience caused. The statement further stated that those who purchased tickets and was unable to be seated will be offered a full refund. It is, however, unclear how the organizers are going to verify such claims. It was also silent as to the overselling of tickets.
Poor explanation for the mismanagement by organisers
Although some did appreciate the refund, many were left unsatisfied with the poor explanation. The comments section of the post saw many netizens who were appalled by the mismanagement. The statement also raised questions for people who did eventually find seats after missing out most of the show but did not receive any funpack.
Some, like Bernadette, even found the seats that they book occupied. Another ticket holder, Andrew, who described his experience as a 'world class experience in frustration' said that he was redirected to another stand as the seats he was originally allocated were occupied.
However, upon entry into the stadium, he saw that the entire sector where his seats were was vacant. Also, after the redirection, he only could find standing space, not a seat nor a funpack, in the stadium.
Scenes of Chaos
Tammy described how bad the scenes were outside the stadium. We can imagine that such scenes may even pose a safety hazard to the elderly, to kids,
Another reader, Fabian Lau, who also sent us the pictures above, shared with us his experience waiting for entry with his pregnant wife.
At about 7.30pm, my pregnant wife and I went up to gate 21. The volunteers mentioned that it was full and advised us to go to the other gate where we also heard the same story. I don't understand, with thousands outside the stadium holding tickets, how can there be a full house? It was only at 8.45pm, where the show was nearing its end, that I was finally let in. The dissapointed did not end there though. I was told by the volunteers that there were no funpacks left but when I made my way to Gate 3, many uncollected funpacks were stacked up. Poor, poor management.
Cheryl Sim's account of the experience also mirrored Fabian's account of being 'yo-yoed' from gate to gate.
Volunteers, not organizers, bore the brunt.
In such a situation, the least one could expect was an apology or some form of direction from SINGSOC, or representatives from SINGSOC, on the ground itself. However, that was not to be. Instead of the organizers, it was the men and women in purple, the volunteers who had absolutely nothing to do with the mismanagement of tickets and seats, who bore the brunt of the venting ticket holders.
Gloria Mok expressed disappointment at the organization, calling it a 'total let down by any standard', but reserved praise for the volunteers. She also added that no one from SINGSOC was seen on the ground to protect volunteers from abuse and to take responsibility for the mismanagement.
Poor Ticket Management for a Poor Show?
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse, it does.
In a detailed post, Nicholas not only lambasted SINGSOC for it's poor management of the tickets and handling of the elderly and disabled, he also criticized the poor quality of the closing ceremony itself. His mum, who had problems walking due to an injury also faced great difficulty navigating as they had to make their way through many staricases without any escalator in sight.
He also commented that the fireworks were close to none from the view of the spectator in the stadium.
Layne was shocked when the taxi she booked was blocked by the police from entering the arena. This came after SIS promised that they have booked more taxis to facilitate the large crowds but after the show many were a large number of people waiting for taxis. She also added that such mistakes were simply unacceptable as it was not the first time they had organized something of this scale.
Overall, to a SEA Games where our athletes and fans were top notch, this slip-shot management from SINGSOC during the closing ceremony will, unfortunately, leave a dent on unfortunate dent in many Singaporeans' memory of the 28th SEA Games.