Saturday 25 February 2017

OCI authorises THG to handle sales of tickets for 2018 Games

Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Pat Hickey’s OCI selected the company at the centre of the Rio touting affair as its ticket agent for the next two Olympics. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Pat Hickey’s OCI selected the company at the centre of the Rio touting affair as its ticket agent for the next two Olympics. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has selected THG as its Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) for the next two Olympics, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The Public Prosecutor's office in Rio has formally laid charges before a judge in relation to former OCI president Pat Hickey and THG director Kevin Mallon for their roles in alleged ticket-touting during the recent Olympics.

Kevin Mallon and his legal representative Franklin Gomez in Rio. A well-placed source revealed the decision to appoint THG was taken before police arrested Mr Mallon on August 5. Pic Steve Humphreys
Kevin Mallon and his legal representative Franklin Gomez in Rio. A well-placed source revealed the decision to appoint THG was taken before police arrested Mr Mallon on August 5. Pic Steve Humphreys

Marcus Evans-owned THG previously acted as the ATR for the OCI at the London Games in 2012 and the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. The company had been nominated to manage the OCI's ticket allocation for the Rio Games but organisers rejected this.

Now it has emerged that THG will manage the national committee's allocation for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018 and Tokyo Games in 2020.

A spokesman for THG said: "Yes, I can confirm that THG will be the official ATR for the OCI for the 2018 and 2020 Games."

A well-placed source revealed the decision to appoint THG was taken before police arrested Mr Mallon on August 5 and seized 823 tickets - many of which had been issued to the OCI - from his hotel room in Rio de Janeiro. Just under 12 days later, police arrested Mr Hickey.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, a spokesperson for the OCI said: "The OCI ATR for the Pyeongchang Games is THG (who were accepted by the Pyeongchang Olympics organising committee).

"However, in recent weeks the OCI wrote to THG putting them on notice that if any wrongdoing was found in the investigation of THG and PRO10 in the context of the Rio Olympics that the OCI would notify the Pyeongchang organising committee of same and THG could risk losing the contract."

Dublin North West TD Noel Rock (FG) said he was shocked by the latest revelation: "It's simply incredible that THG have the rights for the next two games and this should be reviewed as soon as possible.

Read more: 'Silent' Pat Hickey leaves police HQ after less than an hour as prosecutors lay charges before judge over Rio Games alleged ticket touting

Read more: Director of THG refuses to answer police questions

"Given recent events there's a clear need for the OCI to get its house in order.

"Once it has done this, there certainly needs to be a review of all future commercial deals that the OCI has."

Last night police in Rio produced an email apparently sent from PR advisor Jon Tibbs to Patrick Hickey on August 9.

In the email, Tibbs warned Mr Hickey of the severity of the situation and advised him to create a "paper trail" .

He said; "I seriously think you should send a note to the IOC asap stating that 'due to the alleged ticketing offences involving THG in Rio 2016, I would like to provisionally suspend their Authorised Ticket Retailer status for PyeongChang 2018. This would be reviewed once the OCI and the police investigations have concluded.'"

Tibbs instructed him to "Mark it [the note] strictly private and confidential.

"Then we have a paper trail with the IOC to show we have already taken action. We can use this with the media if / when the PyC relatonship becomes public which I fear will be at any time."

Earlier this week, Basketball Ireland's Bernard J O'Byrne wrote to the acting president of the OCI, William O'Brien, asking how and why "matters developed as they did in Brazil".

Mr O'Byrne asked Mr O'Brien "Do we support Pat Hickey?"

Mr O'Byrne is a former chief executive of the FAI. His letter, obtained by the Irish Independent, was circulated on September 6 to the heads of the 39 OCI-affiliated organisations.

Irish Independent

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