By Ho Lian-yi
They leered. They groped. They propositioned.
Hardly the kind of behaviour you would expect of Chefs de Mission (CdMs), the very people in charge of leading and caring for the welfare of their country's sports delegations to major events.
The foreign CdMs cited by three girls were among 200 National Olympic Committee representatives for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in August.
They were here for a four-day Chefs de Mission Seminar and the incidents occurred at formal dinners last week.
At least three Singapore volunteers were invited by CdMs to their hotel rooms.
The girls, who spoke to The New Paper on Sunday, were among 60 Culture and Education Programme (CEP) Champions who attended the functions.
The Champions, aged 18 to 25, were picked as volunteers by the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC).
One of them, Julia (not her real name), a 21-year-old student, said her mother was outraged. She said her mum told her: "Do they think you are a prostitute?"
The CEP Champions were at the welcome dinner at Fairmont Hotel on Monday, in part to promote the YOG programme on Singapore and its culture during the Games, said one volunteer.
Julia said one of the representatives from a Middle Eastern country, who looked to be in his 60s, pulled her head to his mouth after a photo taking session.
She said he whispered in her ear: "We are very lucky to sit in this table with beautiful girls."
Later, she said he hugged her and asked her if she would go to his hotel room. "If he had a granddaughter, she'd probably be my age," she said.
Among the volunteers was also a reporter for The New Paper on Sunday. She sat next to a European representative and found his behaviour disgusting.
On Wednesday, at the Chefs de Mission Seminar Closing Dinner, Julia said a "short, fat and bald" African representative in his 40s touched her shoulder and asked if she wanted to go to his room.
She recalled: "He said, 'There is something I want to show you. Something I want to discuss with you'."
When she declined, he gave her a postcard with his e-mail address on it.
Then he said: "You write me? In August, I give you a souvenir from my country. I will give you something more special than a souvenir.?"
Later, another Middle-Eastern delegate stroked her hair and asked her: "Where can I find pretty girls to make out with?"
Still, she said she kept smiling.
"As a CEP Champion, you can't just go away without saying anything and show a bad face," she said.
Another volunteer, Sandra (not her real name) said a Middle-Eastern representative from her table grabbed her hand when she was walking to the toilet.
We are not identifying the girls to protect them from embarrassment.
The 19-year-old student said: "He asked for my namecard, which I didn't have, so I said no."
But she agreed to give him her number as she saw another volunteer do so.