A Rio anti-fraud police unit arrested the Olympic Council of Ireland’s president on charges relating to a conspiracy to sell tickets to the summer games on the secondary market at elevated prices.
Rio’s police arrested Patrick Hickey in an early-morning bust at an upscale hotel on Wednesday morning. The 71-year-old, according to the Associated Press, felt unwell and the authorities took him to a local hospital.
“Continuing our investigation, civil police discovered the involvement of Patrick in the international scheme of ticket scalping,” the police said of the arrest.
The arrest follows the confiscation of more than a thousand tickets bearing the Olympic Council of Ireland’s markings and the apprehension of Kevin James Mallon, an executive with THG Sports, whose website boasts of its official status as an “authorized ticket reseller” at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but not, significantly, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, on scalping charges.
While national Olympic committees regularly use companies to sell the tickets allocated to them, a scheme to do so at prices well above the face value clashes with Brazilian law. The use of a group not acting as Ireland’s authorized ticket reseller for Rio raises suspicions.
In addition to his role as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Hickey serves as president of the European Olympic Committees. At the 129th IOC session ahead of Rio, Hickey won another term on the IOC executive committee. He represents the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations and the Association of National Olympic Committees on the board.
Hickey maintained “no impropriety whatsoever” from himself or the OCI in ticket scalping in an an interview with RTE News. He acknowledged his son’s past involvement with THG Sports and the outfit not acting as the authorized ticket reseller for the Olympic Council of Ireland for the games in Brazil. “We learned from the media just like everybody else,” he says about the ticket scheme. “We had no advance knowledge whatsoever.”
The IOC bigwig declared, “I’m fully expecting that we, the OCI, will come out of it with fully clear bill of health.” But more than a week later, Hickey sits in a Rio hospital with charges hanging over him.