Olympic Council of Ireland to order independent ticket probe

  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 19 Aug 2016

Patrick Hickey poses on the blue carpet prior to the 2015 ANOC Awards in Washington in this October 29, 2015 file photo. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/File photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Olympic Council of Ireland said on Friday it would commission an independent investigation into accusations of illegal ticket sales that led to the arrest of its longtime president Patrick Hickey in Rio de Janeiro.

The OCI also said it would scrap a previously announced internal inquiry, in a complete U-turn only days after saying no independent monitoring of its investigation was needed.

"The OCI confirms that it will cooperate fully with any state inquiry into its handling of ticketing arrangements for the Rio Olympics," it said in a statement.

"The OCI will now also commission its own independent inquiry into the ticketing arrangements for Rio 2016. The previously announced internal inquiry by the OCI has been discontinued."

Brazilian police arrested Hickey, Europe's top Olympic official, in a dawn raid of his Rio beachfront hotel on Wednesday, in connection with an investigation into illegal sales of Olympics tickets.

The police said they had discovered evidence linking the 71-year-old, who headed the OCI since 1988 before temporarily stepping aside on Wednesday, to an international scheme to illegally pass Olympic tickets to touts who were reselling them at well above their original price.

Police also issued arrest warrants for three executives of Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management.

They are recommending charges against Hickey and the executives for illegal ticket resale, criminal association and fraudulent marketing. Prosecutors have yet to decide on any charges.

Police allege PRO10 funnelled tickets to another company, THG Sports, whose director was arrested this week in Brazil. PRO10 and THG have denied wrongdoing.

Hickey has yet to make any comment. He was admitted to hospital with chest pains after his arrest, but was discharged on Thursday and taken to a Rio police station.

Ireland’s Sports Minister Shane Ross said on Thursday that the government was preparing its own judicial investigation and that he would finalise the terms of reference with the country’s Attorney General on Friday.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Alison Williams)

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