Spectators shut out of SEA Games closing ceremony

Spectators shut out of SEA Games closing ceremony
SEA Games closing ceremony.
PHOTO: NP

Some spectators were denied entry to the SEA Games closing ceremony at the National Stadium, while hundreds of others had to queue for hours before they could get in.

Soon after the event on Tuesday night, irritated spectators went online to complain about the overcrowded venue. To compound matters, in some cases, it appeared that priority was given to those with complimentary tickets to enter the stadium.

Could a reason for the congestion be that more tickets were issued than the seats available?

Sources told The New Paper that this was a likely possibility, with up to 15,000 tickets being over-issued.

Said one of the affected spectators, Mr Daniel Ng: "I heard from one of the staff on the ground that the organisers had probably over-sold tickets for this event.

"People paid money to secure seats. If the organisers decided to over-sell tickets, some people would definitely be left out."

A month ago, the 37-year-old bought two tickets costing $17 each online to attend the event. But he was given the runaround at the venue on Tuesday before he finally found seating on a staircase in a different part of the stadium.

When Mr Ng and a friend turned up at Gate 15 at around 7.30pm - half-an-hour before the main event was due to start - they were told to move as their section was full and their seats were occupied.

"It was really upsetting because we thought our seats were reserved under our tickets. How could they have been taken up by other people?" Mr Ng asked.

Mr Ng and his friend then moved to the next entrance, only to find that it had been closed because the section was also full. On their third try, they found themselves queuing in front of an entrance with about what seemed to be several hundred people.

When they finally entered the stadium at 8.30pm, they had to sit on the staircase.

WORRIED

"(We were worried for our safety) as the arena was packed with people," Mr Ng recounted.

Not wanting to deal with the crowds, the pair left the venue soon after.

Mr Ng said: "This event would probably happen only once in a lifetime for us. Yet we were given such treatment. It is just beyond words how disappointed I am."

Another frustrated spectator, Mr Silvamani Arumugam, 36, said he, his wife and daughter had to wait for two hours before they finally entered the stadium at 9pm - when the ceremony was nearing its end.

Like Mr Ng, they had moved from gate to gate hoping to get in. The warehouse manager had travelled from Jurong West with his family only to be told the section they were allocated was full.

"I asked some volunteers for help, but all they told me was they did not know anything and they had no way of contacting their supervisors," said a disappointed Mr Silvamani.

On the official SEA Games Facebook page, at least 13 people commented that they had been denied entry.

When approached by TNP with queries on whether there was overselling of tickets, the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee did not respond directly.

Instead, it directed TNP to a press statement released on its official Facebook page on Tuesday at about 11pm.

The organising committee apologised for the inconvenience to the spectators, and explained that some entrances had to be closed for safety reasons.

It said: "As a significant proportion of the spectators were at the gates just before the start of the ceremony, there was a need to adjust entry gates and seating arrangements to enable them to be seated as quickly as possible. Consequently, some gates had to be closed for safety reasons."

It also said it would offer a full refund to "anyone who had purchased a ticket and was unable to be seated".

Log on to https://www.seagames2015.com/contact-us or phone them at 1800 344 1177 during office hours.

EVENTS COMPANY: OVERSELLING POSSIBLE

There has not been an event in Singapore where so many extra tickets were given out, said Mr Steven Woodward, the director of Midas Productions.

The company has handled many concerts in Asia, including the Pentatonix tour shows in Singapore and the Philippines earlier this month.

In the industry, the only way tickets could be oversold occurs when there is an error with the ticketing system, he said.

"Under normal circumstances, there would be no extra tickets to give, because they have already been allocated."

Mr Woodward said it was possible that the tickets were oversold and given out intentionally.

"Perhaps the organisers thought people wouldn't use their complimentary tickets and they wanted the seats filled for such a grand national-level event to look good," he said.

They...didn't realise that there would be such a good turnout, he added.

sqong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 18, 2015.
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