Thursday, November 17, 2011

Journalists having a nightmare in Palembang

I HAVE been in Palembang for almost a week, and boy I’ve struggled to think of something good to say about how the SEA Games have been managed.

It has been anything but easy for the media here as the organisers have their own peculiar way of doing things and are not well-versed with what it takes to set up a proper functioning working area.
For example, the main media centre in Palembang is located in the centre of nowhere on the fifth floor of what is the headquarters of a local bank.

Needless, to say, the majority of the print media have already shunned the centre since the competition started as there is no proper transport.

And the going-ons at the Jakabaring Aquatic Centre, where the swimming competitions are taking place, frustrate even the most patient of journalists.

The entry to the pool is chained up and no one is allowed to go through.
So how are the reporters supposed to reach the athletes in the first place?

Well, you have to walk around the perimeter of the complex to get to the waiting room of the athletes and things get worse when everyone starts to hang out there.

The organisers stationed security personnel there from Monday to make sure we did not go in - resulting in some heated exchanges as the journalists could not conduct their interviews.

This is not the only grouse as certain things like start lists, which we take for granted, are not available. Results are also not posted immediately after each event.

Needless to say, the official website and Internet connection are unreliable.
The reporters have to quickly jot down the results from the electronic scoreboard if it is to be transmitted quickly as it looks like paper here is a rare commodity.

In fact, there were even some sports where the results were written by hand and posted on the wall.
But it has to be noted that some venues, like for shooting, have someone who makes an effort to make available copies of the official results.

The volunteers, in abundance at previous Games, are noticeably missing here in Palembang.
Word is that most of them have been designated to usher the so-called VIPs around.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous ruling requiring one to take off your shoes when going into the main toilet on the ground floor.

It’s the first time I’ve encountered this going into my seventh SEA Games and it has made me start counting down the days to the end of this assignment.
It can’t come fast enough.


Jakarta Vibes

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