Suspected food poisoning hits SEA Games football teams

Jeanette Tan
Yahoo! Newsroom10 November 2011


The Indonesian Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Organising Committee (INASOC) has said it will look into the spate of suspected food poisoning incidents among the SEA Games football teams.

In a phone interview with Yahoo! Singapore on Thursday morning, INASOC director Ratna Irsana Marhaendra said the committee will be having a meeting to discuss whether further action needs to be taken with regard to the incidents.

"I think everybody is doing their job," she said. "We will also make sure that doctors and clinics (at the hotel) are ready for them."

Ratna said that the food that was served to the athletes had previously been checked by INASOC nutritionists and doctors, adding that she had personally visited the Sultan Hotel Jakarta on Wednesday, and found everything in place.

"I have also spoken to the hotel management and there have been no reports of stomach problems," she stated.

There are now 12 confirmed cases of stomach problems faced by players and officials from five ASEAN football teams, all of whom are staying at the Sultan Hotel, the capital's largest five-star accommodation.

No new incidents are believed to have surfaced since Tuesday, however, and checks with Singapore and Malaysian team coaches have confirmed this for their teams.

Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee said on Wednesday night, however, that the Young Tigers have opted to switch to spaghetti and fruit for their meals on match days, avoiding the regular fare served to them at the hotel's Lagoon Café.

"That's the only thing that we've done so far, but the moment anything seems wrong with the food, we will completely stop eating there," he added.

Starting from Sunday evening, at least 10 players, including three Young Lions and two players from host country Indonesia, as well as two country officials involved in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, have reported incidents of suspected food poisoning, albeit in varying cases of severity.

Young Lions
' midfielder Mohd Firdaus bin Kasman was the first in the Singapore team to report an upset stomach and a migraine on Monday morning, said team manager Ashiq Idris on Tuesday.

It prevented him from playing in Singapore’s clash with Malaysia that evening, even though he was supposed to be part of the starting 11.

His teammates Shahdan bin Sulaiman and Muhd Khairul Nizam, who complained of discomfort and weakness after Monday’s match, were diagnosed with mild diarrhoea and prescribed medication.

All three were deemed fit to play in Wednesday night's match against Cambodia, however, with Khairul Nizam contributing to Singapore's goal count despite a second injury to his right ankle during the game.

Malaysian striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan was placed on a 1.5-litre sodium drip after being dehydrated from diarrhoea, while three Timor-Leste players and one trainer complained of indigestion.

Ong added on Tuesday that midfielder K. Gurusamy felt discomfort but was able to play in Monday’s game.

Timorese assistant coach Alex Vongo said on Tuesday his three affected athletes have still not been able to see a doctor for treatment. “They’re supposed to have a 24-hour medical service here but when we visited it after lunch today, it was closed. It was quite disappointing,” he noted.

Cambodia's Chhin Chhoeun, who played in Monday's evening match against Indonesia, also had diarrhoea later, said his coach Tae Hoon Lee.

The Sultan Hotel's assistant manager for food and beverages Sudrajat said the hotel management had not been informed of any cases of indigestion.

The 52-year-old added that the hotel would investigate any reports of suspected food poisoning.

Delegations from Myannmar, Brunei and the Philippines confirmed their players are in good shape, apart from physical injuries sustained from previous matches.

Myannmar head coach Sheean Hansson said as his players are not used to local cuisine, the team imports and prepares its own meals.

The Young Lions had from Tuesday evening stopped taking their meals at the Lagoon Café. The team's nutritionist has been ordering the players’ food a la carte from a different restaurant in the same hotel, said Ashiq.