Republic of Ireland news

Travel ban for Ireland's Olympic officials amid probe over tickets

Fireworks during the Rio Olympic Games 2016 Closing Ceremony at the Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture by Martin Rickett, Press Association  
Scott D'Arcy and Ryan Wilkinson, Press Association

IRELAND'S top four Olympic officials, including a former gold medallist from Co Down, have been barred from leaving Brazil as police expanded their investigation into the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the Games.

Three Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) officials had their passports, phones and laptops seized by Brazilian police as the games wrapped up on Sunday, following the earlier arrest of Pat Hickey, who has since stepped aside as OCI president.

Rio police said Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin, from Bangor, who is previously a director of coaching at Ulster Hockey, and secretary general Dermot Henihan, are accused of illegally selling Olympic tickets.

The officials were not arrested but they were asked and agreed to attend police stations in Rio for questioning today, the OCI said in a statement.

Investigators arrived at the OCI's offices in the Olympic village and its accommodation outside the village early on Sunday morning, where they met staff preparing for the closing ceremony.

Officers searching for evidence seized the devices, as well as unused tickets that were part of the OCI's allocation for athletes' families.

A Rio police official said: "We are continuing the investigation into the international scheme of ticket scalping. Agents are conducting investigations since this morning which will continue until Tuesday."

According to reports, a Brazilian judge has issued a warrant for the passport of FAI chief executive and Olympic Council of Ireland vice-president John Delaney.

Mr Delaney is one of six people listed on the warrant, alongside acting OCI president William O’Brien and OCI officials Linda O’Reilly, Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin.

Linda O'Reilly is Pat Hickey's personal assistant.

Hickey (71) was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Wednesday and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pain before he underwent cardiac tests.

After being discharged he was taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation.

Mr Hickey has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He has been moved to a high security remand prison at Rio's Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison and an application against his detention was denied by a judge, according to police in Rio.

Meanwhile, a judge in Ireland is due to be appointed this week to head an independent inquiry into the alleged ticketing scandal.

The OCI is to appoint an international accountancy firm to conduct an independent review of ticketing arrangements in Rio, with the report given to the judge.

Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of THG Sports, which specialises in corporate and sports hospitality and is owned by Ipswich Town FC owner Marcus Evans, has been in custody in Brazil since August 5 over the affair.

Mr Mallon was arrested after police seized Olympic tickets in a Rio hotel, some of which were part of the Irish allocation and some for the opening and closing ceremonies and the football final.

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