In an apology issued on its Facebook page, the SEA Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) has denied overselling the tickets for the SEA Games closing ceremony, and blamed the sudden build up in the crowds in a short period of time, which caused the organizers to restrict entry into the stadium for safety purposes.
SINGSOC claimed that after accounting for all the guests at the venue, there was still sufficient seats in the stadium for all those who came for the event. This is despite reports from eye witnesses, who said that volunteer ushers had no choice but to turn away guests from the National Stadium because all the seats were full. Many guests also reported having to wait more than an hour for entry, with some leaving before they could enter the venue because the situation was too chaotic.
“In fact, the number of people who arrived and entered the stadium could have been accommodated if we had more time to seat them at the various levels. But the crowds built up over a short period just prior to the commencement of the ceremonies,” SINGSOC wrote its post. “The nature of the event, which employed dimmer show lighting, also made it difficult to direct the guests past the gates and to the remaining pocket of seats around the stadium.”
The disappointment and frustration of the crowd resulted in ugly incidents where volunteer ushers were abused by members of the public. Many of these ushers comprised of young students, national servicemen and other members of volunteer grassroots organisations. The abuse of these volunteers has drawn sharp criticism from Singaporeans, many of whom have stood up to defend the young volunteers who faced abuse from angry crowds.
The full SINGSOC statement:
SINGSOC would like to once again apologise to all who were inconvenienced when seeking to gain entry to the National Stadium for the Closing Ceremony of the 28th SEA Games on 16th June 2015.
There have been queries on whether tickets for the evening were oversold. Based on the experience at the Opening Ceremony where about 30% of ticket holders were “no-shows”, we had invited groups from Team Nila volunteers and Voluntary Welfare Organisations to the Closing Ceremony. After accounting for these complimentary tickets, we would like to confirm that there were still sufficient seats in the stadium for all those who came for the event.
In fact, the number of people who arrived and entered the stadium could have been accommodated if we had more time to seat them at the various levels. But the crowds built up over a short period just prior to the commencement of the ceremonies. The nature of the event, which employed dimmer show lighting, also made it difficult to direct the guests past the gates and to the remaining pocket of seats around the stadium.
All this created a build-up at the inner concourse of the stadium and raised concerns for safety. This resulted in a need to restrict further entry from the gates until it was safe to do so.
There are some very clear lessons to be drawn from this experience that did not surface during the Opening Ceremony, like how to have better informed everyone on arrival timings; and how to better manage the rapid build-up of crowds and the ushering at entry gates. We acknowledge that we should have done a lot better.
There were also queries about the crowds that entered the stadium pitch for the party. We would like to clarify that this was pre-planned and coordinated with the stadium operators, crowd safety officers and security personnel. The intention was to allow access by members of the public, after the athletes and volunteers had made their way down. The safety limit on the number of persons on the pitch was not breached.
We are reaching out to all affected guests, and assisting them on refund matters, and providing them with the supporters’ medallion. Please contact us at 1800 344 1177 during office hours (Mon-Fri: 9.00am-6.00pm). We thank everyone for their support and feedback as we continue to learn from the experience.