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Monday 21 May 2018

IOC chief 'won't travel to Rio' as he is named as a witness

IOC president Thomas Bach. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
IOC president Thomas Bach. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has been named by police in Brazil as a witness as part of their investigation into ticket touting allegations surrounding Pat Hickey.

Authorities want to speak to Mr Bach if he arrives in Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympics.

According to the Brazilian newspaper 'Globo News', police in Rio planned to speak to Mr Bach when he was scheduled to arrive in the country on Tuesday.

However, the sports administrator is attending a state funeral for Walter Scheel, the former West Germany president, who died at the age of 97, in Berlin.

In fact, it will be the first time since 1984 that an IOC president has not attended the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics.

It is reported that the next time Mr Bach arrives in Brazil, he will be "subpoenaed" as a witness. The newspaper claims to have seen e-mails between the German and Mr Hickey discussing ticketing.

Read more: IOC chief Thomas Bach has 'no plans' to travel to Brazil after he's named as 'witness' in ticket touting scandal

Police allege that from 2014 to the beginning of the 2016 Olympic Games there are 65 email exchanges between Mr Hickey and Mr Bach. It is alleged that Mr Hickey asked for more tickets for some of the events at the Games. In an email exchange, published by the website, Mr Hickey reportedly made comparisons between the ticket allocations for the OCI for the London Games in 2012 and the Rio Games in 2016.

He then allegedly went on to issue a "wish list" for tickets.

In a statement, issued to the Irish Independent, a spokesman for the IOC president confirmed that "there are no plans" for him to travel to Brazil.

"The IOC cannot comment on a newspaper story nor on the ongoing legal procedure against Mr Hickey for whom the presumption of innocence prevails. For the IOC it goes without saying that it will cooperate on this matter."

The spokesman went on to confirm that Mr Bach was attending the official state mourning ceremony yesterday.

"For this reason he has informed International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven, that he could not be at the Opening Ceremony of the XI Paralympic Summer Games Rio 2016 as originally planned. Both the state mourning ceremony and the Opening Ceremony are taking place on the same day."

The spokesman continued: "At this present time there are no plans for the president to travel to Brazil."

The Public Prosecutor's office in Rio has formally laid charges before a judge in relation to Mr Hickey and his role in the alleged ticket touting during the Olympics. A judge must now decide whether to accept or reject charges against Mr Hickey, THG director Kevin Mallon and eight others.

Mr Hickey (71) attended the police HQ in Rio for questioning on Tuesday. But he "invoked his constitutional right to silence", according to a statement from his family.

"He stayed silent," added detective Aloysio Falcao last night. "We asked 14 questions, but he gave us only silence."

All involved deny any wrongdoing.

Irish Independent

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