As far as I know noun modifiers should be singular. For example:

  • 40 person team - the person is singular even though it's multiple persons

However, there are some cases in which a noun modifier will be plural. Example:

  • special operations team
  • special needs children

Why are the singular and plural cases different?

  • Perhaps this has something to do with the modifier being in 'base case' rather than 'singular'. Maybe "special ops" is the base case; "special operation" is something else altogether. Likewise for "special needs". (I don't have the full answer, so I just offer this observation. If someone does come up with a full answer, please ping me about it.) – Lawrence Aug 14 '18 at 5:36
  • The noun modifiers to which you refer are nouns themselves. This means that they can (but perhaps not always) follow the normal singular/plural convention. So whether you said "event organiser", or "events organiser", would depend on whether there was to be one "event" or multiple "events". – WS2 Aug 14 '18 at 6:27
  • Having said that, I am a member of a committee which sponsors six lectures a year. And the person arranging the speakers is known as the "Lecture Secretary" not "Lectures Secretary". So the exact position does depend on an idiomatic principle, I suspect. – WS2 Aug 14 '18 at 6:32
  • "A Six-Foot, 220-Pound Penguin Once Lived in New Zealand" – Kris Aug 14 '18 at 7:41
  • @WS2 But person is also a noun itself, so why 40 person team and not 40 persons team? – GEV Aug 23 '18 at 22:19

As far as I know noun modifiers should be singular.

This is right, but plural nouns or noun phrases can "attributively" modify a singular noun. Reference.

This is what's happening with both your examples.

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