Food Fail: SEA Games Athletes Find Meals Lacking, Non-Nutritious

From a Php 50 million cauldron to teams sleeping on hotel floors, the buzz around the Southeast Asian Games just won’t seem to stop. The latest on the list of hurdles they’ve had to overcome is complaints from multiple countries regarding their athletes’ meals. Teams from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and even the Philippines have raised concerns with the nutritional value of the meals they are being fed.

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Screenshot from The Straits Times story

(SEA Games Complaints Loom Before Official Start)

Singapore Chef De Mission Juliana Seow sent a letter, dated November 24, on the issues the  Singaporean delegation has been facing. She wrote to Chief Operating Officer of Phisgoc, Ramon Suzara, seeking his “urgent and immediate attention to address the situations we are facing.”

Aside from problems with accreditation, the letter focused on the contingent not being given “sufficient halal food and had very limited food options” while some of its officials “had to starve.” The halal options they were given consisted of just rice, pita bread, and eggplant lasagna.

Seow also stated that the contingent “had to order outside food to complete their meal and as you may already know, nutrition is a very important part of the preparation and our athletes are starving.”

Meanwhile, athletes from Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines all had the same complaint of their breakfast not being enough and lacking nutritional value.

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Photo from

(Palace Responds To SEA Games Complaints: “No Excuses”)

“Today, my breakfast, most of the players eat only bread and some egg. We have a big tournament, I hope they will improve the food,” Malaysian coach Joceph Jacob said. Vietnam coach Mai Duc Chung shared the sentiment and expressed the hope that they are better provided for, moving forward.

Let Dimzon, coach of the Philippine women’s football team had her own piece to say. “I’m not sure kung paano ang arrangement ng PHISGOC  [I’m not sure what the arrangement of PHISGOC is], but the quality and quantity of food is not enough. Sa variety din, like for this morning, hindi enough ‘yung rice and kikiam and egg. Walang nutrients. [The variety too, like for this morning, it’s not enough to have rice and kikiam and egg. No nutrients.]” she said during a press conference last Monday.

“Supposedly, this is an international competition, it should be international course. But I think maybe the budget PHISGOC is shelling out is not enough to cover the quality of food,” she continued in Filipino. “We’re the host country and it’s a bit disorganized. It feels bad for us.”

However, WhiteWoods Hotel in Cavite has clarified the issue to say that the athletes were served chicken sausage, not kikiam. “We serve athletes a buffet that is part of a meal plan prepared by the organizers. For the specific breakfast meal in question, chicken sausage (and not ‘kikiam’), was part of a wider menu that included an omelette station, other assorted sausages, fruits, fresh fruit juices, bread, and rice,” the statement read.

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