Saturday 19 August 2017

'OCI was more concerned with looking after sponsors than supporters' - judge

Former OCI president Pat Hickey Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Former OCI president Pat Hickey Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former Olympic Council of Ireland boss Pat Hickey oversaw the organisation with an autocratic style of management that led to poor governance, a judge-led inquiry has found.

The review of the ticketing fiasco at the Rio Olympics suggests the OCI was more interested in pleasing corporate sponsors than ensuring families and supporters of Ireland's representatives were looked after.

Judge Carroll Moran finalised his damning report in recent weeks but the Irish Independent understands that for legal reasons significant portions of it are likely to be redacted before publication.

It has not yet been supplied to the two ministers in the Department of Sport, Shane Ross and Patrick O'Donovan. It is anticipated the Attorney General Máire Whelan will also be asked for advise on its publication amid claims its contents could prejudice an investigation by Brazilian police.

Máire Whelan has been asked for advice on its publication amid claims its contents could prejudice an investigation by Brazilian police.

They have accused Mr Hickey under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing. Mr Hickey denies the charges.

He spent four months in the notorious Bangu Prison before being granted bail and being allowed to return to Ireland. The Association of the National Olympic Committees, of which Mr Hickey was vice president, paid the €410,000 bail bond.

Mr Hickey was allowed to return to Dublin in December while he awaits trial but has declined to engage with the non-statutory inquiry.

Judge Moran was asked to carry out a review of the circumstances that led to the discovery of hundreds of tickets that were earmarked for the OCI in a hotel room.

The OCI had engaged British ticketing agent Marcus Evans and his company THG to distribute its tickets during the games.

THG declined to give evidence to the inquiry, as did the OCI and Rio Organising Committee for the Olympics Games.

However, it is understood the judge has found evidence of a concealed relationship between Mr Hickey and Mr Evans. His report is believed to make reference to a trip Mr Hickey made on board the businessman's private jet to an Olympics-related conference in Switzerland.

The report is understood to state that Mr Hickey held a strong control over the OCI. Judge Moran is believed to have concluded that Mr Hickey oversaw much of the Council's commercial and sponsorship arrangements.

Mr Hickey is expected to dispute many of the findings.

It had been expected the report would be discussed at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting, but this will not now happen.

A spokesperson for the Department of Sport said the ministers will get the report this week.

Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy last night called for the report to be made public as quickly as possible.

"It's appalling that the OCI was seemingly more interested in allocating tickets based on the needs of sponsors over those of supporters and the families of Irish Olympians," Mr Troy said.

He noted the report has already been delayed by a number of months.

"This delay seems to have arisen as a result of difficulties in getting critical players to co-operate with the inquiry. Minister Ross was warned that a statutory inquiry with a defined timeline would be needed to get an in-depth examination of this fiasco. His failure to recognise this at the time raises questions over his judgment as minister," he said.

Irish Independent

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