Olympic Council of Ireland will defend itself 'to the hilt' following Patrick Hickey arrest

Pat Hickey at his hotel room in Rio on Wednesday morning before his arrest in relation alleged illegal ticket sales at the Olympic games
Gareth McKeown

THE Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has vowed to defend itself "to the hilt" following the arrest of president Pat Hickey for alleged illegal ticket sales at the Rio games

Mr Hickey (71) remained in Samaritano Hospital last night after complaining of chest pains following Wednesday morning's arrest at his hotel.

The Dublin sports official is alleged to be involved in a €2.5m scheme to sell tickets up to 18 times higher than their face value and faces three potential charges: facilitating ticket touting, forming a cartel, and "ambush" marketing.

Brazilian authorities detained him on suspicion that he was aware that tickets from the OCI had ended up with THG Sports, a company which is not accredited to sell Olympic tickets. If found guilty he faces up to seven years in prison.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the charges relate to "facilitating the selling of tickets above face value" and until the matter is fully resolved "the presumption of innocence prevails".

In the wake of the allegations Mr Hickey has stepped aside "temporarily" from his positions as the International Olympic Committee member in Ireland, president of the European Olympic Committees and vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees until the matter is "fully resolved".

Acting president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Willie O'Brien visited Mr Hickey on Wednesday night and speaking afterwards said the former Olympic chief was in a 'stable' condition in hospital and would be discharged within 24 hours.

"We can't make any comment while the legal case is going on here. We will defend ourselves to the hilt," he said.

The new acting president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Willie O'Brien has said the organisation will defend itself "to the hilt" following the arrest of Pat Hickey

The police investigation centres on the sale of more than 800 tickets to the games, including more than 20 which Brazilian police said were intended for use by Ireland's Olympics officials.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of sports and hospitality company THG Sports has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair. He was arrested after police seized Olympic tickets in a Rio hotel, some of which were part of the Irish allocation and others for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

Arrest warrants have been isssued for a further four company executives including Irishman David Patrick Gilmore.

The Irish authorised ticket reseller (ATR) for the games is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management and Brazilian police believe they diverted the tickets to THG.

The company said it had legitimate customers for its tickets and Mr Mallon was acting as a collection agent for them in Rio, meeting clients. Warrants have been issued for all the company directors by Rio police.

Both firms have denied any wrongdoing.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross arrived back in Dublin yesterday after meeting Mr Hickey on Sunday to discuss the allegations.

He is due to meet the Attorney General today to discuss the controversy.

A spokesman said the minister will also be liaising with his Cabinet colleagues although no formal Cabinet meeting has been arranged.

Former World Indoor gold medallist Derval O'Rourke said the ticket controversy was "embarrassing" and called for a full investigation.

Speaking to RTÉ on Wednesday night the former 100m hurdler said she found the situation "a little bit disgusting".

"I feel we’re a very talented country and athletes deserve the highest level of treatment and professionalism from the people who are running sports," she said


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