Republic of Ireland news

London 2012 ticket sales to be probed by Irish inquiry into Rio Olympics scandal

Minister for Sport Shane Ross (left) and Minister of State for Sport Patrick O'Donovan speak to the media outside the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Dublin, as Ireland's judge-led inquiry into the Olympics ticketing scandal in Rio will also probe ticket sales for London 2012, it has been announced. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Brian Hutton, Press Association

IRELAND'S judge-led inquiry into the Olympics ticketing scandal in Rio will also probe ticket sales for London 2012, it has been announced.

Dublin's Sports Minister Shane Ross said the independent investigation will further look at ticketing for the 2014 winter games in Sochi and any other previous games that come under suspicion.

Mr Ross confirmed former High Court Judge Carroll Moran will head the inquiry and takes up his position immediately. It is expected to take three months.

While it is non-statutory - meaning he cannot compel witnesses to give testimony - the judge can recommend a full state investigation is launched.

It will investigate "the receipt, distribution and sale of tickets" allocated by the International Olympic Committee and how the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) dealt with those tickets, according to just-published terms of reference.

This will include "any resale of any tickets as part of hospitality packages".

Four of Ireland's top Olympic officials have been barred from leaving Brazil as police expanded their investigation into the alleged illegal sale of tickets for the Games.

Three OCI officials had their passports, phones and laptops seized by Brazilian police as the games wrapped up on Sunday, following the earlier arrest of president Pat Hickey.

Rio police investigating the controversy wanted to question Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary general Dermot Henihan.

They later ruled out Mr Henihan's involvement in the alleged scheme, saying there was no evidence, after he appeared at police headquarters on Tuesday.

Mr Kilty and Mr Martin have yet to be questioned.

Mr Hickey, 71, was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Wednesday and Rio police said he 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.

Mr Hickey has also stepped aside from his role as president of the OCI.

He has been moved to a high-security remand prison at Rio's Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison.

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.

The authorised ticket reseller contracted by the OCI is Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management.

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.

THG and PRO10 have denied any wrongdoing over ticket sales.

Mr Ross has voiced concerns about publicity around the arrests and questioning of Irish citizens in Rio.

"It is not something we are accustomed to here," he said.

"We certainly are concerned about the fact that there are Irish citizens in Brazil in this sort of situation."

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