Singapore National Olympic Council clarifies Asiad swim trio were not drunk or unruly

Team Singapore swimmers (from left to right) Joseph Schooling, Teo Zhen Ren and Roanne Ho. -- PHOTOS: AFP/ST FILE/TNP
Team Singapore swimmers (from left to right) Joseph Schooling, Teo Zhen Ren and Roanne Ho. -- PHOTOS: AFP/ST FILE/TNP

THE three swimmers who were recently issued warning letters by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) were neither unruly nor drunk.

However, SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan cautioned yesterday that athletes need to remain accountable to team officials while competing overseas.

He told The Straits Times: "I'm always concerned about the athletes' whereabouts. As officials, we have a lot of contingency plans in place that we don't bother the athletes with, so that they can concentrate on competing.

"Sometimes they don't understand that people will worry for them, and how serious our worries are even when competitions have concluded."

Chan was speaking a day after it was clarified that Joseph Schooling, 19, Teo Zhen Ren, 20, and Roanne Ho, 22, had left the Asian Games athletes' village in the early hours of Sept 27 to have supper as the dining hall had closed.

The trio did not inform team officials because they did not want to wake them up.

Schooling, who won the Republic's first men's swimming gold in 32 years at the Games, was recognised by the diners, who offered him a toast which he accepted "out of courtesy".

They later returned to the village and asked to be driven back to their apartment block on golf carts driven by volunteers wearing security police bibs.

Following a formal inquiry, a panel that included lawyer Jeffrey Beh and SNOC Athletes' Commission chairman Yip Ren Kai found that the swimmers had infringed the Code of Conduct for Athletes and Officials at Major Games when they left the athletes' village without permission.

They were, however, not unruly nor drunk as widely reported, as backed by Chan in a statement sent on Monday.

Schooling's mother May said that, rather than trying to side with her son, she just wants to correct what was alleged against the swimmers.

She said: "We're not saying they're angels - they're not. They really did go out without permission, but they didn't misbehave.

"It's a good lesson for the young athletes going forward. We're all still learning. Now, they will be more careful."