Monday 19 August 2019

Olympic Federation chief 'surprised' as Hickey is invited to Belarus games

Sarah Keane, president of the OCI. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sarah Keane, president of the OCI. Photo: Frank McGrath

Cathal Dennehy

Olympic Federation of Ireland president Sarah Keane has expressed her surprise that Pat Hickey has been invited to attend the European Games in Minsk, Belarus.

Mr Hickey, former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, was invited as a guest of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) despite remaining self-suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the wake of his ticket-touting arrest in 2016.

Ms Keane said Mr Hickey will have no involvement with the Irish team in Minsk and will travel solely as a guest of the EOC, of which he was president for more than a decade until stepping aside in 2016.

"He would have been heavily involved in the creation of the European Games so there is an affinity which [the EOC] value very highly," said Ms Keane. "He has no particular role or function other than being there as a former president to enjoy the event."

After being told of Mr Hickey's invitation, Ms Keane held talks with EOC president Janez Kocijancic.

"We expressed our surprise and they were open and honest about it. He has assured me that this is standard practice in terms of inviting former presidents to events."

Mr Hickey was OCI president for 29 years prior to his arrest. He continues to insist his innocence. His trial in Brazil has been suspended and the OFI has no indication when, or if, it will take place.

Irish Independent

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