Three days after news that almost 800 tickets had been discovered by police in the Kevin Mallon‘s hotel room, the then Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey gave a 10-minute interview to RTÉ. Below are extracts of his answers which have now been contradicted by emerging evidence.
On the controversy affecting athletes?
Pat Hickey: “I can tell you categorically that the athletes in the Olympic village are totally isolated from that. Ok, they can follow it, but none of this has carried over whatsoever into the Olympic Village. We have a great chef de mission out there in Kevin Kilty. Everybody is extremely happy. That has not impacted in any way on Team Ireland.”
* Athletes’ families struggled to get tickets for events with the mother of sailor Finn Lynch revealing in recent days that PRO10 told her they had none available for the Opening Ceremony. However, in an email Mr Hickey allegedly told Marcus Evans of THG: “I can confirm to you now that I do not require any of the opening or closing ceremony tickets that was part of our NOC allocation. You can use them all.”
When did you become aware of the ticket situation?
Pat Hickey: “Not until it happened. We learned from the media just like everybody else.”
How did you feel about Irish tickets been found in this way?
Pat Hickey: “I wasn’t very happy. This is why we are going through the mechanism of how did this happen and did it happen in a legal way or an illegal way against the contract that has been signed. We have to assemble all this evidence before the Council can make a decision and know what the facts are.”
Did PRO10 ever have possession of these tickets?
Pat Hickey: “What happens with the tickets is, we don’t handle them whatsoever. The tickets are issued to PRO10, not by us but by Rio 2016. So we never handled tickets whatsoever. You’d want to refer that question to PRO10.”
* We now know from emails released by Brazilian police that Mr Hickey allegedly asked Marcus Evans of THG if he wanted tickets, writing: “We have tickets left that PRO10 don’t want so before we get rid of them have you any use for them?”
What have PRO10 told you?
Pat Hickey: “We have sent them a list of questions and we want detailed answers to each question so we can assemble all the facts.”
Any understanding of how THG became involved in this?
Pat Hickey: “None whatsoever.”
The OCI no longer has any association with THG?
Pat Hickey: “No. The ATR for Ireland for the Rio 2016 Games is PRO10 Management.”
* The evidence publicised by Brazilian police suggests that Mr Hickey personally asked THG if they wanted OCI tickets.
When did the OCI sever its links to THG?
Pat Hickey: “After the Sochi Games.”
* Emails released by Brazilian authorities suggest that Mr Hickey was in contact with Mr Evans on August 3, just three days before the Rio Olympic Games began.
Are the OCI co-operating with inquiries?
Pat Hickey: “We instigated the involvement. We wrote to Rio 2016 immediately. They are the ones with all the knowledge. [We wrote] to request can they advise us of exactly what happened, can they advise us of the police reports or whatever knowledge they have. We did the same with the IOC. We’re waiting on a reply from both parties because we have to gather all the evidence.”
The International Olympic Committee say there are sanctions if an individual national federation is found to be involved in unauthorised ticket deals?
Pat Hickey: “What I can tell you very clearly is that there is no impropriety whatsoever from anyone within the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets. I want to reassure you of that 100pc. We’re back to collecting the evidence. The IOC will certainly have a review and the review will depend on all the evidence that we have got. I’m fully expecting that we, the OCI, will come out of it with a clear bill of health.”
* Mr Hickey has not been found guilty of any offence but is facing charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel and ambush or illicit marketing. The offences carry a jail term of up to seven years. Meanwhile the OCI has appointed a crisis management committee and is recruiting an international accountancy firm to carry out an independent review into ticketing arrangements for Rio.