Saturday 17 March 2018

Hickey planning Olympic return in 'due course' after Rio tickets report

Pat Hickey. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Pat Hickey. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Pat Hickey will be entitled to attend OCI meetings as a non-voting member if he returns to his role with the international Olympic movement.

The ex-president of the Olympic Council of Ireland had indicated that he intends to return to Olympic duty "in due course" after temporarily stepping aside after being arrested in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Hickey, who is out of the country, said he is "pleased" the year-long inquiry into the Rio ticketing scandal by Judge Carroll Moran had "cleared" him in that there is "no allegation of criminality or financial impropriety".

In a lengthy statement the 72-year-old said the report contains "significant flaws and inaccurate assumptions" but because of legal proceedings in Brazil "now is not the time to address these serious inaccuracies".

Mr Hickey did not engage with the inquiry after receiving legal advice that doing so could risk his right to a fair trial in Brazil, where he is facing charges of ticket touting, forming a criminal association/cartel and illicit marketing. The offences carry a prison term of up to seven years.

However, the Dubliner concluded his statement by noting that he remains "totally confident that I will be cleared of all charges in Brazil".

OCI President Sarah Keane at a briefing into the Moran report. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
OCI President Sarah Keane at a briefing into the Moran report. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"I look forward in due course to resuming my international Olympic duties," he said.

Mr Hickey has been Ireland's representative on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1995 but is currently listed on its website as "temporarily self-suspended".

If Mr Hickey were to resume his role he would become an ex-officio member of the OCI. This would entitle him to attend board meetings and obtain documentation relating to the committee's work.

However, his successor as president of the OCI Sarah Keane said that even if Mr Hickey is exonerated in Brazil the IOC may not accept him back.

"If the statutory authorities deem that there is no crime that doesn't mean that there hasn't been poor practice and then something comes back to the organisation to look at," she said.

"There's a different threshold involved in an organisation. You don't have to be found guilty of a criminal activity not to be a member of an organisation."

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Shane Ross, who established the Moran Inquiry, has defended its €300,000 cost, saying it was not "fundamentally undermined" by a lack of co-operation from the key players.

Mr Justice Carroll Moran could not ascertain where many of the tickets allocated to the OCI for the Games ended up which "substantially undermined the ability of the inquiry to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the facts".

Among those cited as being non-cooperative is the Rio Organising Committee which the judge says failed to reply to six emails.

However, a lawyer for the organisers said last night "no one formally got in touch" with him from Ireland.

Luiz Ryff said emails received from the inquiry might have been disregarded as spam, and that no phone contact was made with him. "I receive many emails every day from all over the world. It's hard to know which ones to trust, which ones are real," he said.

Irish Independent

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