Rio Olympics

Irish judge to probe Olympic ticketing scandal at Rio games

MECHANISM: The Republic’s sports minister Shane Ross and minister of state for sport Patrick O’Donovan yesterday during a press conference
Brian Hutton

AJUDGE-led inquiry is being set up in the Republic into the Olympics ticketing scandal, it was announced yesterday.

The move follows the detention of senior Olympic official Pat Hickey in a Rio prison after his arrest over the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the games.

The Republic’s sports minister Shane Ross said a judge will be appointed next week to head an independent inquiry into the affair.

Mr Ross returned home early from Brazil to meet the south’s attorney general about what could be done to get to the bottom of the controversy.

“We have agreed to establish a non-statutory inquiry to be carried out by a retired judge,” he said.

“We believe that a judge led non-statutory inquiry is the most appropriate mechanism to establish the facts.”

Mr Hickey, former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), has been moved to a high security remand prison at Rio’s Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison.

An application against his detention was denied by a judge, according to police in Rio.

Mr Hickey (71) had been discharged from hospital in the city earlier and taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation.

He was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pain before he underwent cardiac tests.

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

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law but is a preliminary step in that direction. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Olympic Council of Ireland has said it will fully co-operate with the Irish inquiry into the alleged illegal sale of tickets.

Two ticket agencies at the centre of the controversy have also pledged their cooperation and urged the anticipated probe in Dublin to make its findings as quickly as possible.

The OCI said: “The Olympic Council of Ireland confirms that it will cooperate fully with any state inquiry into its handling of ticketing arrangements for the Rio Olympics.

“The OCI will now also commission its own independent inquiry into the ticketing arrangements for Rio 2016.

The previously announced internal inquiry by the OCI has been discontinued.”

After his arrest Mr Hickey, from Dublin, stepped aside 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.

The investigation centres on the sale of more than 800 tickets to the Games, including more than 20 which police said were intended for use by Ireland’s Olympic officials.

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Rio Olympics