Asian Games: Late night out, unsteady return

Asian Games: Late night out, unsteady return

They flew the Republic's flag proudly at the Asian Games, one of them higher than any Singapore athlete in Incheon, but in relaxing after the end of the swimming competition, three swimmers may have let their hair down a bit too low.

Sources have revealed that Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling, 19, Roanne Ho, 21, and 20-year-old Teo Zhen Ren, were escorted by a security official from the entrance of the athletes' village to their block in the early hours of Saturday morning, allegedly intoxicated, just as a group of Team Singapore athletes and officials were about to leave the village for a flight home.

The swimming competition came to a close on Friday evening, with one gold, a silver pair and two bronze medals in Singapore's basket.

Schooling, 19, was responsible for three of them - one gold in the men's 100m butterfly, a silver in the 50m fly and a bronze in the 200m fly - in what has been his breakout swim meet.

Tao Li has her name on Singapore's two other medals.

"It has been brought to our attention that three athletes returned to the athletes' village in the early hours on 27 September," said Singapore chef de mission Jessie Phua in a statement yesterday. "We will investigate further after the Games."

"All athletes are under the jurisdiction and care of the chef de mission and SNOC at the major Games. Please direct all queries to them over this and other matters during the major Games," said Singapore Swimming Association executive director Edwin Ker in a statement.

While the manner of the three swimmers' return to the village was regrettable, sports administrators The New Paper spoke to were not too perturbed by the incident. But they raised the concern over the safety of the athletes.

"They are young athletes who were letting off some steam at the end of a tough competition, and months of preparation before that," said one, on condition of anonymity.

"Athletes are human, and they need that. I think it's best to acknowledge what happened, make sure the (manner of their return to the village) is not repeated, and allow them to move on, and get back to training."

SAFETY CONCERN

But the safety issue was foremost on the mind of another administrator.

"The administrators there must know of the whereabouts of the athletes before, during and even after the end of the competition," said the administrator. "The safety of athletes is of the highest importance."

Hockey player Silas Abdul Razak told TNP that athletes representing Singapore are expected to abide by a code of conduct, with processes in place to ensure that they return from competition safely.

"We were instructed to inform our coaches and managers of our movements. At these Games, the hockey team stayed together and moved about together, with consent and supervision of our team manager," said the forward.

"But supervision is not constant.

"Although our officials trust us to do the right thing, we do get visits from them, but we don't leave the village. If we do, only as a group with managers and coaches with us."

The Games continue in Incheon, with the closing ceremony scheduled for Saturday.

"We have reminded all remaining athletes and officials to be responsible for their actions and to keep the Team Managers updated of their movements,' added Phua, who called for continued focus on the sporting aspect of the Asiad.

"In the meantime, Team Singapore have five more days of competition to go at the Asian Games. We are focused on giving our best to support the athletes who are still competing, and wish them the very best for the competition."


This article was first published on September 30, 2014.
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