Myanmar is using generators for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in December, in case its less than reliable power supply system decides to black out and make the country an international disgrace.
“We won’t use the national grid because there may be blackouts during the opening and closing ceremonies,” said Htay Aung, the director of the Ministry of Sports’ Public Affairs and Education Department, according to the Irrawaddy. “We will use generators.”
Nearly 20 generators will be needed per hour in advance of the ceremonies, Htay Aung said, and added that a sudden blackout would be embarrassing for his country as it hosts the Games for the first time in decades.
The Ministry of Sports’ worry is not unfounded – only 30 percent of Myanmar’s 60 million population has access to electricity, and even well-connected areas like Yangon, the commercial center of the country, experiences frequent blackouts due to the unreliability of the national power supply grid.
Much is at stake for Myanmar as it hosts the Games for the first time after the reform regime took over in 2011q, and Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, who supervised the Games Organizing Committee, gave orders that everything should be flawless during the event.
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“The Vice Presient has ordered us not to give the country a bad name during the Games,” an official from the Ministry of Sports said on condition of anonymity, the Irrawaddy reported. “If something bad happens, a series of ministers will be fired.”
Aside from the Ministry of Sports, the Ministries of Hotels and Tourism, Home Affairs, Transport, Electric Power are involved in the organization of the Games.
On Tuesday evening, with just 42 days to go before the Games begin, the entire nation experienced a one-hour power cut. The Yangon City Electricity Supply Board (YESB) said the blackout was caused by a fault in the national grid.
Each of the four cities where the Games will be held – Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, and Ngwe Saung – has been stocked with generators. The four stadiums in Yangon have been prioritized to receive regular electricity during the Games, but in case of a blackout generators will come online automatically.
Recently during a pre-Games international hockey competition in Yangon, a power outage left players and attendees in the dark for five minutes, the Irrawaddy reported.
Listen to Myanmar's Southeast Asian Games 2013 Theme Song: