Sunday 18 March 2018

Irish athletes had to catch public buses to their events in Rio amid tickets debacle

Some of the Irish team with Pat Hickey (front row, standing, third from right) at the Olympics welcoming ceremony in Rio last summer. Photo: Sportsfile
Some of the Irish team with Pat Hickey (front row, standing, third from right) at the Olympics welcoming ceremony in Rio last summer. Photo: Sportsfile
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Irish athletes competing at the Rio Olympics were forced to use public transport to reach their events because of a lack of accreditation.

The judge-led inquiry into the ticket scandal that marred our participation at the Olympics has reported a series of problems with how the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) treated athletes, their coaches and supporters.

Many families who travelled 8,500km to Brazil had to do so without any guarantee they would be able to obtain tickets for events.

Judge Carroll Moran concludes the company responsible for looking after Ireland's ticket allocation, Pro10, "provided an inadequate service as an authorised ticket reseller to such an extent that it was unfit for its purpose".

"The ineffective and chaotic service provided by Pro10 resulted in a substantial level of complaints from athletes, their relatives and friends, from members of the Sports Federation and from the public," his report says.

The judge found Ireland initially sought 2,138 public tickets for the Olympics - but excluded sports like boxing, golf, rowing and sailing where we had genuine medal hopes.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is due to publicly release the report today but the Irish Independent can reveal it finds major failings on the part of the OCI.

However, the judge was unable to build a full picture of what happened to all of the tickets allocated to Ireland for the Olympics.

He blames a lack of co-operation from key players including former OCI president Pat Hickey, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Rio Organising Committee for gaps in his narrative.

The Rio Organising Committee did not reply to six separate emails from the inquiry, while Mr Hickey and the IOC said they could not take part while criminal proceedings were ongoing in Brazil.

Mr Justice Moran says this has "substantially undermined the ability of the inquiry to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the facts".

He does conclude that Pro10 was given the contract to administer tickets for Ireland as a way of facilitating another company, THG, to operate in Brazil. The Rio Organising Committee had banned THG from the Olympics because the company, owned by millionaire Marcus Evans, was under suspicion for ticket-touting.

Among the recommendations in the report is that the OCI should set up a supporters' club so spectators have a greater input into Olympic activities.

Mr Justice Moran heard from a variety of people who complained about a "dearth of information" on how to obtain tickets.

"These complaints revolved around their frustrations and the impossibility of acquiring such tickets for events in which they were interested."

The judge said that for many this inability to acquire tickets in advance was a cause of serious disquiet and "was a fundamental impediment to many persons in deciding to make an important investment in time and money, travelling a significant distance to South America for the occasion".

Once they were in Rio, Irish people did not seem to have had any difficulty in acquiring tickets for events.

The father of one athlete described to the inquiry how the allocation of accreditation for the Olympics was also chaotic.

In some instances, athletes and coaches were sharing accreditation and the inquiry heard that athletes without passes had to travel to their events by public bus.

"The result of the shortage of accreditation is that often athletes would have to share coaches, and often accreditation would not be provided to specialist coaches," the report states.

"Some professed that it was a mystery as to how accreditations were allocated, not only in the number of accreditations made available but also as to the level of accreditation.

"It is clear there was a lack of transparency in the allocation of the accreditations and moreover there was poor communications with the athletes and their coaches on issues surrounding accreditation."

The OCI has promised to make its management of accreditation a priority ahead of future Olympics.

Timeline: An Olympic scandal involving $1m deals, private jets, chaotic management and arrest beamed around the world

2009, July 9: Former OCI president Pat Hickey receives an email from THG boss and Ipswich Town Football Club owner Marcus Evans proposing to become the ticket agent for each Olympic Games up to 2020.


March 5: THG lodges $1m into the OCI's bank account as part of its bid to become the ticket agent for London 2012 and Sochi 2014.

June 22: FAI boss John Delaney proposes that the OCI begins paying Mr Hickey an honorarium of €60,000 a year.

The judge said it was questionable whether the allowance, paid to the president between 2010 and 2016, was within the spirit of the organisation as a small voluntary operation.


December 16: Mr Hickey reports to the OCI that THG has offered $600,000 to be the ticket agent for the Rio Games in 2016.


February 5: OCI's Executive Committee decides to start excluding its CEO from meetings.


May 5: Rio Organising Committee rejects the OCI's application to appoint THG as its ticket agent. It has suspicions the company is linked to ticket touting and unauthorised hospitality events.

May 6: Mr Evans sends Mr Hickey an email with the subject line "My Thoughts" in which he suggests an alternative to THG.

May 20: A business called Pro10 is registered.

The judge concludes Pro10 "was not a genuine Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) but its involvement disguised the continuing role of THG and Marcus Evans as the real or de facto ATR".

June 22: Contract signed to allow Pro10 be the OCI's ticket agent for a fee of $100,000. The judge believes that the OCI is still owed $50,000 from this element of the deal by Pro10.


April 20: Mr Hickey flies to Geneva on Mr Evans's private jet.

August 5: Just hours before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio, Kevin Mallon of THG is arrested by police.

Officers seized a number of tickets from a hotel room but the judge was unable to state how many or what their intended destination might have been.

August 10: Email from Mr Evans to Mr Hickey asking for his thoughts on a reply from Pro10 to queries from the Rio Organising Committee. This was drafted by THG.

August 15: A Brazilian judge issues warrants for the arrest of four THG executives, including Mr Evans.

August 17: Mr Hickey is arrested during a 6am raid on his hotel. Images of him in a dressing gown are beamed around the world.

August 21: Closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

September 6: Mr Hickey is charged with ticket touting, forming a criminal association/cartel and illicit marketing by Brazilian authorities. He could face up to seven years in jail but has repeatedly refuted the charges.

September 19: The Moran Inquiry is established by Transport Minister Shane Ross with a deadline for its report set at December 12.


August 14: Moran Report due to be published by the minister.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport