Sunday 25 February 2018

Pat Hickey 'steps aside temporarily' as OCI President following arrest and 'ill health'

OCI boss Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
OCI boss Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Pat Hickey has taken the decision to "step aside temporarily as President of the OCI", according to the Olympic Council of Ireland.

In a statement issued to media, the council said: "A warrant of arrest for OCI President Pat Hickey was issued this morning by Brazilian authorities.

"Contrary to reports, Mr Hickey complied fully with the terms of the warrant. Mr Hickey was taken ill as this warrant was served and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

"In light of this morning’s developments and his ill health, Mr Hickey has taken the decision to step aside temporarily as President of the OCI and all other Olympic functions (IOC member in Ireland, EOC President, ANOC Vice President) until this matter is fully resolved.

"Mr Hickey will of course continue to cooperate and assist with all ongoing enquiries."

The International Olympics Committee have also released a statement, saying they have "taken note" of Mr Hickey's decision to step aside.

William O'Brien, vice president of the OCI, will assume all presidential activities on an interim basis. Mr O'Brien said to reporters that the OCI will defend themselves 'to the hilt' following the arrest.

The 71-year-old was arrested on Wednesday morning at his hotel in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.

He was questioned and later arrested. He was taken to hospital as a precaution after mentioning he had a heart condition.

At the press conference, it was revealed that Mr Hickey is facing charges of formation of a criminal association/cartel, sales of illegal ticketing and marketing without authorisation.

He faces a maximum prison sentence of up to seven years if charged and found guilty.

Other information revealed by the police at the press conference included:

*The arrest of Pat Hickey took place at approximately 10am Irish time (6am local time) this morning

*There is evidence of emails and messages between Pat Hickey and Marcus Evans, the director of British company THG Sports

*After being arrested, Hickey cited an existing heart condition and was then brought to a hospital in the district of Barra in Rio

*The Brazilian police have warrants issued for three Pro 10 officials

Sports Minister Shane Ross has announced he is returning to Dublin "as quickly as possible" in the wake of Mr Hickey's arrest.

The minister released a statement on Wednesday evening saying he understands the arrested person "has accepted consular assistance and our Consul General is engaging with him".

 “Given the seriousness of this matter, and in the interests of taking swift and decisive action, I will be returning to Dublin as quickly as possible," he continued.

"I will immediately consult with my officials, with Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, and with the Attorney General with a view to considering the options open to the Government and decide the best course of action.”

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