Asian Games Opening Ceremony - The Real Story!
Despite the spectacular opening ceremony, which received high praise, there was some criticism by some delegations and athletes. Heavy rain poured down just after the end of opening ceremony, and many believed that the organizers did not have plans to deal with it, creating a chaotic situation. Chef de Mission of the Philippines, Butch Ramirez, said that some of the members of the Philippine delegation, including athletes, were soaked in the rain because the organizing officials did not allow them to re-enter the covered stadium for shelter; instead they had to stay in the heavy rain for more than 30 minutes. He goes on to say that the breakdown in transportation protocols due to the rain caused the athletes to rush to the nearest bus station, exposing them to rain. Ramirez said that he himself was a victim of pushing and shoving due to this chaos, and that because of it, he suffered from an asthma attack.
Malaysian athletes also expressed unhappiness. According to the athletes, the organizing officials allowed only the Qatari team to exit the stadium and held back the other 44 nations inside. Also, the disarrangement of transportation queues meant that they had to wait in the wet and tiring conditions till 2 a.m., when they were finally sent to the Athletes' Village.
A Japanese journalist said while a few buses and bus stops were prepared around the stadium, the organisers also didn't install shelters to protect people waiting in these stations. To be fair, it only rained twice in the two years since planning for the ceremony had begun, and the heavy storm during the actual opening ceremony is rare by Qatari standards.
In fact the transportation was not as troublesome as some reports indicated. For example, while organizers projected that it would take about 1 hour and 40 minutes to clear the stadium of delegations and athletes, it actually took only 1 hour and 15 minutes, with the last delegations arriving at the Athletes' Village before 1:00 a.m. Additionally, the Qatari team, which stood in the middle of the Stadium field during the Ceremonies, left in the middle of delegations, neither first nor last. The public spectator car parks were nearly empty less than an hour after the event.
As of this writing, there has been some confusion concerning the many volunteers working the games; as in many not showing up to their assignments, too many showing up at events or locations where they are not needed, and some complaining that they were being made to do work other than what they previously agreed to do, as in female VIP hostesses being told to go pick up trash outside on the streets. Many volunteers have been complaining about the lack of transportation needed to take them to their locations, as most are guest workers and have no privately owned vehicles. They are authorized free use of taxis, but they are saying the taxis are not stopping for them, despite the fact that they have been given vouchers by organisers. After a volunteer briefing/Opening Ceremony rehearsal at Khalifa Stadium one night in mid-November, hundreds of volunteers were stranded as they were unable to find transportation back into the city, most having to walk back and not getting to their homes until late at night. Sources say there were only so many buses, which were quickly filled, and despite being told the buses would return, they didn't.
According to one IOC insider who arrived back at his hotel soaked, this incident could hurt the chances of Doha hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, which they are likely to bid for. Indeed, transportation is one of the crucial factors involved in the decision process.
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