by Sonja Nikcevic, AIPS Media
RIO DE JANEIRO, August 17, 2016 – Brazilian police have arrested European Olympic Committees president and president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Patrick Hickey due to speculation of his involvement in ticketing controversy at the Rio Olympic Games.
It has since been confirmed that Hickey, an IOC member since 2012, has been formally charged with “ticket-touting, forming a cartel and illicit marketing”. Hickey could face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.
Patrick Hickey was arrested early Wednesday night at the Windsor Marapendi Hotel in the Olympic neighborhood of Barra de Tijouca where the majority of IOC members are staying during the Games.
A warrant was issued for the EOC president’s arrest following 1000 tickets allotted to the Olympic Council of Ireland for executives, athletes, families and sponsors where found to have been sold at heightened prices to fans.
Brazilian police had detained a director of international sports hospitality company THG Sports and a woman working as an interpreter at Games on charges of fraudulent marketing of tickets.
It is reported that Hickey became unwell after his arrest and was transferred to Samaritano hospital in the Barra de Tijouca neighborhood.
The ongoing ticketing drama involving the Olympic Council of Ireland has seen local police seizing the tickets last week, before Irishman Kevin Mallon, a director of a sports hospitality company THG Sports, and an interpreter was arrested on August 5th, on charges of fraudulent marketing of tickets for the Games that were traced back to THG. Mallon has been held under arrest since.
The Olympic Council of Ireland said in a statement that it was aware of the Hickey arrest and “are seeking total clarity on the situation before we comment further”.
It is illegal for tickets allotted to a National Olympic Committee to be redistributed and sold to fans without informing the International Olympic Committee. The Authorised Ticket Reseller for the Olympic Council of Ireland is company Pro10, who had initially stated when the tickets were seized that THG’s Mallone was acting on their behalf. Brazilian police have since detained four THG directors, and have confirmed that warrants have been issued for the arrest of three directors of Pro 10.
The IOC has refused to comment further on the fact that one of it members has been arrested, for the first time during an Olympic Games, adding that Mr. Hickey has a right to be assumed innocent until evidence proved otherwise and that it has made itself fully available to cooperation with the police.
The Brazilian police held a press conference regarding the issue earlier this morning.
Rio police said in the press conference that they went to Mr Hickey’s hotel in the Barra district of the city this morning, but Mr Hickey was not present in his room.
Police were allegedly told by Mr. Hickey’s wife that he had left for Ireland, but police discovered Mr Hickey in another room at the hotel – believed to be his son’s.
According to Ireland’s Independent, Ireland’s Sports Minister Shane Ross flew to Brazil on Tuesday to discuss the situation with Hickey, but ended up fiercely criticizing him.
‘Mr Hickey absolutely refused point blank to share any information with us about this situation at all,’ Ross said.