Saturday 10 December 2016

Olympic Council of Ireland will 'cooperate fully' with State inquiry into alleged ticket touting

Olympic bosses cut off €800-a-day pay as Hickey quizzed for almost four hours

Independent Newsdesk and Cathal McMahon

Published 19/08/2016 | 02:30

Pat Hickey, in wheelchair, is escorted by police to a waiting car at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pat Hickey, in wheelchair, is escorted by police to a waiting car at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The Olympic Council of Ireland has insisted it will cooperate fully with any State inquiry into the alleged touting of tickets in Rio.

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In a statement released today, the OCI said: "The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) confirms that it will cooperate fully with any State inquiry into its handling of ticketing arrangements for the Rio Olympics. 

"The OCI will now also commission its own independent inquiry into the ticketing arrangements for Rio 2016.  The previously announced internal inquiry by the OCI has been discontinued."

Pat Hickey had strongly dismissed the notion that the OCI would cooperate with a Government inquiry when he met with Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, last week but Hickey's subsequent arrest has changed the direction of the OCI's stance.

Pat Hickey hides from photographers in the back of a police car after leaving Insituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli Endereco Police Station in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pat Hickey hides from photographers in the back of a police car after leaving Insituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli Endereco Police Station in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Meanwhile, Hickey has been denied bail by a judge in Brazil as he faces allegations of alleged touting of tickets for the Rio Olympics, it is being reported this morning.

The news comes as the two companies at the centre of the Olympic ticket allegations  - THG and Pro10 Sports Management - have fully backed calls for an independent inquiry.

Lawyers representing Mr Hickey made an application for him to be released on bail but this was turned down by Justice Claudio Brandao of the Court of Justice, RTE News reported this morning.

It is likely that the decision will be appealed to a higher court.

Meanwhile, Olympic chiefs have cut off Pat Hickey's payment of €800 a day as Brazilian police questioned him for almost four hours last night about the Olympic ticketing allegations.

This morning THG and Pro10 Sports Management and THG both backed calls for an independent probe this morning.

Pat Hickey has now stood down from his position as President of the Olympic Council of Ireland. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Pat Hickey has now stood down from his position as President of the Olympic Council of Ireland. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

In statements released this morning,  the company said it welcomed an independent inquiry. "THG wishes to make clear that it would very much welcome such an inquiry and pledges to provide full cooperation in the strong belief that it can demonstrate that the company has acted lawfully at all times," read a statement from the agency.

PRO10 added its voice of approval for an independent inquiry.

"PRO10 fully supports the call for a judge-lead inquiry into the matter of the sale of tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympics. We believe that it should be a full Commission of Investigation under the 2004 Act of that name," read a statement from PRO12.

Earlier, Mr Hickey was wheeled from a hospital in Rio de Janeiro last night and taken by car to a police station to be quizzed about the accusations.

Security outside the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Security outside the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. Pic Steve Humphreys

After four hours, the 71-year-old hid in the back of a car as he was taken to be medically examined once more before being finally brought to a detention facility pending further investigations.

Mr Hickey stood aside temporarily as Olympics Council of Ireland (OCI) president after his arrest in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.

The alleged ticket scam came to light after fellow Irishman Kevin James Mallon (36) was arrested on the day of the opening ceremony.

Mr Hickey is potentially facing three charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing. Brazilian detectives say the offences carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

It is possible that he will be sent to the notorious prison Bangu 8 but his lawyers could go to court to request house arrest with an electronic tag.

Patrick Hickey leaves the Hospital Samaritano Barra in a wheelchair. Photo: Sportsfile
Patrick Hickey leaves the Hospital Samaritano Barra in a wheelchair. Photo: Sportsfile

Last night, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that it had stopped Mr Hickey's daily expenses of €800 a day, paid to him every day he was in Rio. But IOC officials condemned Rio police for allowing a TV crew to accompany them as a naked Hickey was arrested in a hotel, describing it as "theatre".

IOC member Dick Pound said: "It makes it look like all sports administrators are corrupt. They're not."

Before the latest developments, William O'Brien, first vice-president of the OCI, told media: "We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That's all I can tell you."

Mr Hickey spent almost four hours inside the Instituto de Criminalista Carlos Eboli Endereço last night giving his deposition to the Brazilian Civil Police.

He was joined in the station by OCI general secretary Dermot Heneghan and team doctor David Feekan.

It is understood that he was advised by a Brazilian legal team throughout the process.

Mr Hickey was then moved back to a medical facility where he was assessed again by doctors.

It was expected that Mr Hickey would be brought to a detention facility last night - possibly the Bangu 8 prison where Mr Mallon is currently being held.

Read more: Pictured: Pat Hickey released from Rio hospital in a wheelchair - and into police custody

Read more: How the international media reacted to Pat Hickey's arrest in Rio

Ahead of the latest developments, William O'Brien, first vice president of the council, vowed to defend Mr Hickey and the association.

He told media at the private Hospital Samaritano: "We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That's all I can tell you."

When asked about the charges that Mr Hickey faces, Mr O'Brien said: "No comment because as you can understand he is having all sorts of tests inside, so he has made no comment about the allegations."

At a press conference, Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that it has had no communication with Mr Hickey in hospital.

Mr Adams claimed that the IOC had no details on the charges Mr Hickey may face - and said he was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

When he was arrested on Wednesday, Mr Hickey explained he had a heart condition and was brought to hospital. He received a number of visitors, including Mr Heneghan.

He was flanked by armed police officers throughout. Friends could speak to him but police would intervene if visitors attempted to hand him anything or show emails.

There was no sign of Mr Hickey's wife Sylviane at the hospital.

Read more: How Pat Hickey ended up in jail, shamed Ireland

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