Sunday 19 January 2020

No impropriety from OCI over tickets, says its president

OCI president Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
OCI president Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Niall O'Connor and Ed Carty

Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has insisted that his organisation will emerge from an investigation into alleged ticket touting at Rio with a clean bill of health.

Speaking in Rio, Mr Hickey said he was sorry for any embarrassment to Ireland over the alleged touting issue but maintained that no one in his organisation had been involved in any improper behaviour.

The 71-year-old said the OCI was continuing to gather all relevant information connected to allegations that Olympic tickets, earmarked for the OCI, were sold on the black market in Rio.

Mr Hickey, who did not return calls from the Irish Independent yesterday, told RTÉ News: "What I can tell you very clearly is that there is no impropriety whatsoever from anyone in the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets. I want to reassure you on that 100pc.

"I would, of course, be very sorry for any embarrassment caused to Ireland in this issue. I intend to rectify it as soon as I can."

Meanwhile, THG Sports has refuted the allegations against its director, Kevin Mallon. In a statement, THG Sports said there was "no evidence" to support the ticket-touting claims.

The company added that both THG Sports and Mr Mallon were co-operating with the authorities in Brazil in their investigation.

Read more: PAC chairman: Statement from OCI on Rio tickets scandal is a 'joke'

Read more: Olympic 'ticket touting' scandal will be investigated by TDs - minister

THG added that it was seeking Mr Mallon's release and urgently calling for a "review of the case by the Brazilian judiciary".

It has also emerged that two Oireachtas watchdogs are jostling over which should be responsible for conducting hearings over the Olympics touting scandal. Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Sports Committee both say the issue of alleged illegal ticket selling in Rio de Janeiro falls under their remit.

However, there is concern politically that any row between the two committees over which should first be allowed question the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) could delay the hearing.

PAC member Noel Rock was the first TD to call for the OCI and its president Pat Hickey to appear.

However, the chairman of the Sports Committee, Brendan Griffin, last night said the matter also fell under its remit.

He said: "I would also like to think athletes themselves will come in."

Irish Independent

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