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Irish Olympic officials free to leave Brazil after questioning

Ireland's Olympic Council team leader Kevin Kilty, left, and chief executive Stephen Martin, arrive at police headquarters in Rio. Picture by Leo Correa, Associated Press
Adriana Gomez Licon

TWO of Ireland’s top Olympic officials are free to leave Brazil after they were questioned by police in Rio.

The pair were interviewed yesterday as part of a ticket-scalping probe that has already led to the arrest of Ireland’s highest Olympic official.

The Olympic Council of Ireland’s (OCI) team leader Kevin Kilty and chief executive Stephen Martin arrived at police headquarters yesterday evening wearing the Irish team uniform.

“We are here to fully cooperate. That’s all I can say at the moment,” Mr Kilty said to reporters as he entered the building.

UTV Ireland reported last night that the pair are now free to leave Brazil after police found no evidence they were involved in the ticketing scandal.

Secretary general Dermot Henihan spoke to investigators on Tuesday but they ruled out his involvement in the scheme, saying there was no
evidence that indicated wrongdoing on his part.

Authorities say a company called Pro 10 Sports Management was created to help transfer tickets between the OCI and an unauthorised vendor who would sell them for high fees.

The three officials’ passports, phones and laptops were seized in an Olympic Village raid hours before the closing ceremony.

The alleged scheme unravelled at the beginning of the games when Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of British hospitality provider THG,
was arrested in Rio with tickets that were allocated to the OCI.

OCI president Patrick Hickey (71) was arrested last week in a dawn raid at his hotel and transferred to a hospital with chest pains.

A member of the International Olympic Committee’s ruling executive board, Mr Hickey was in charge of the influential umbrella group for Europe’s Olympic bodies.

Now he faces charges of conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing, with authorities accusing him of being part of a plot to make $3
million (£2.3 million) by illegally selling Rio Games tickets above face value.

The strongest evidence police have found are emails exchanged between Mr Hickey and the head of a company that was not an authorised vendor discussing opening and closing ceremony tickets to resell.

Mr Hickey is held in Rio’s Bangu prison complex.

His lawyer has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the case.

The scandal has threatened to overshadow the success of Ireland’s Olympic athletes.

An independent inquiry into the ticketing scandal has been set up in the Republic, headed by former High Court judge Carroll Moran.
The probe, which is expected to take three months, will also investigate ticket sales for London 2012, the 2014 winter games in Sochi and any other previous games that come under suspicion.

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

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