Spectators who were affected by the lockout from the SEA Games closing ceremony at the National Stadium on Tuesday were unhappy about the experience, but drew the line at the abuse of volunteers and spoke up against such behaviour.
Calling the volunteers blameless and praising them for doing what they were instructed to under difficult circumstances, members of the public instead blamed the organisers for the chaos.
Believed to number in the hundreds, some spectators could not enter the 55,000-seat arena despite having purchased tickets. This is because those already inside had waited at the concourse area after failing to find their seats when the lights went off for the ceremony. It meant stadium personnel had to close the gates as a safety measure to prevent greater crowd congestion.
On Tuesday, the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) apologised for the incident, offering a full refund for the tickets, which cost up to S$40, and a supporter’s medallion. As of press time last night, SINGSOC had yet to respond to TODAY’s queries on the situation.
Several of the affected spectators yesterday criticised the people who took their frustrations out on the volunteers.
Said Ms Teo Su Xin, 23, who had to wait 40 minutes before being allowed in: “We (crowd) couldn’t enter. They (volunteers) said it was a full house and volunteers kept asking us to move from one gate to another and I just followed the crowd, but there was this uncle who was agitated and raised his voice at the volunteers.
“I didn’t think they deserved such treatment as they were merely carrying out instructions given to them.”
Spectator Mark Tan was also unable to enter. “They (volunteers) were … effectively abandoned by whoever should have been coordinating them,” he said.
Ms Paddy Low, 50, who waited for 45 minutes before deciding to go home instead, added: “The volunteers at the gate were put in a difficult spot as they didn’t know why there was such a situation. I felt sorry for them as they kept getting scolded by people.”
Said a volunteer who declined to be named: “The crowd definitely grew rowdy, frustrated and impatient, shouting at the security and volunteer team on duty at Gate 14. A man carrying a baby also shouted at those on duty.”
The lockout is probably one of the few blots of the 28th SEA Games, which were otherwise praised for the way they were run.
SINGSOC roped in 17,000 volunteers to help run the biennial meet.