Tuesday 6 December 2016

Hickey sought Rio reprieve for ticket firm THG

Cathal McMahon and Shane Phelan

Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30

Pat Hickey. Pic Steve Humphreys
Pat Hickey. Pic Steve Humphreys

Pat Hickey wrote to senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials proposing that alleged ticket tout agency THG become a "sub agent" for the Rio 2016 Games after the local organising committee resisted its appointment.

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In emails released by Rio de Janeiro police, Mr Hickey set out a "strategy" that the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) be its own ticket reseller for Rio 2016.

He proposed that THG, in its role as a sub agent, would be granted "all the same rights" as an authorised ticket reseller (ATR).

Mr Hickey wrote to top IOC officials on April 10, 2015, saying he had discussed the strategy with IOC President Thomas Bach, who he claimed had accepted it.

At the time, the local organising committee in Rio was resistant to THG being appointed as an ATR following the arrest of its then chief executive James Sinton during an investigation into unauthorised ticket selling at the 2014 World Cup.

Mr Hickey, who has temporarily stepped aside as president of the OCI, is currently in Brazil, where he is awaiting trial.

He and THG director Kevin Mallon are facing charges of ticket-touting, illicit marketing and money-laundering in Brazil. A further eight individuals are also facing charges.

Read more: Pat Hickey asked that THG be appointed 'sub agent' for Rio 2016 after organisers rejected bid

Read more: Pat Hickey: 'This has been a life-changing experience for me... I am humbled by the support of thousands in Ireland'

The OCI had originally nominated THG as its ATR for the Rio Olympics but this was rejected by organisers.

Irish company Pro10 was set up on April 28, 2015, 18 days after Mr Hickey's email to IOC officials.

It was awarded the OCI contract in November 2015, a month after THG was formally rejected by Rio organisers.

Police in Rio allege Pro10 was created to act as a bridge to get tickets from the OCI to THG.

According to the latest emails, Mr Hickey wrote to Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympic Games, Howard Stupp, the director of legal affairs at the IOC, Pere Miro, deputy director general for relations with the Olympic Movement, and Sidney Levy, CEO of Rio 2016, concerning THG's potential status as Ireland's official ticket reseller.

The 71-year-old outlined "an agreement" which he claimed he had formulated following conversations with Mr Dubi and Mr Miro over the previous fortnight.

He went on to outline four points. Firstly, he asked that Rio 2016 be willing to appoint the OCI as the ATR for the Rio Games. Next, he wrote that Rio 2016 would "have no objection" to the OCI appointing a "sub agent" for the Games, which would be THG.

He said that Rio 2016 would give THG the "same rights and obligations as an ATR".

His third point was that the IOC would issue a "letter of comfort" to THG stating that this would not jeopardise the company in making an application to be an ATR for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

His fourth and final point was that the OCI should not suffer any loss of ticket allocation due to this delay.

Mr Hickey went on to say that once the points were clarified and confirmed, THG would write to Rio 2016 cancelling its previous request to be recognised by organisers. "Therefore they would not have been declined as an ATR," he said.

Mr Hickey concluded by claiming he had a conversation with Mr Bach the previous day and "he (Bach) confirmed he was in acceptance with it".

Rio police are currently looking to speak to Mr Bach as a witness over emails and texts between him and Mr Hickey surrounding ticket allocations.

An IOC spokesman declined to comment on the latest emails.

Irish Independent

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