Police arrest Irish Olympic committee member in ticket scalping probe


European Olympic Committee (EOC) President Patrick Hickey (L) and International Olympic Committee President (IOC) Thomas Bach (C) arrive for a ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files

Brazilian police arrested Patrick Hickey, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board from Ireland, in his hotel in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday in connection with an investigation into ticket scalping at the Olympics.

Police said in a statement they had discovered evidence linking Hickey to an international scheme to illegally pass Olympic tickets to scalpers who were reselling them at well above their original price.

Local media reported that Hickey, who also heads the European Olympic Committee, was detained at the hotel Windsor Marapendi near the Olympic Park and was rushed to hospital after his arrest.

An IOC spokesman declined to comment on the arrest but confirmed that Hickey had been taken to hospital.

Jamil Chade, a reporter of the Estado do Sao Paolo newspaper who was at the hotel at the time of the arrest, told Reuters that police searched the hotel restaurant and gym before finding Hickey in his son’s room. He said police called an ambulance to the hotel.

“It took some time for the ambulance to arrive and it went to the back door of the hotel,” said Chade.

The Olympic Council of Ireland said in a statement it was aware of media reports of Hickey’s arrest and was seeking clarity on the situation before commenting.

Hickey did not respond to calls for comment.

He was a member of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Rio Games, the body in charge of overseeing preparations for the first Olympics held in South America.

His arrest comes after police detained last week a director of international sports hospitality company THG Sports, Kevin Mallon, and a translator employed by the company, alleging that they could have made 10 million reais ($3.1 million) from buying tickets and reselling them at a higher price.

A Brazilian judge on Monday also ordered the arrest of four more THG Sports executives on accusations of fraudulent ticket sales at the Olympics. A police spokesman, however, said the four men could not be detained because they were not in Brazil.

THG has rejected the accusations against the company and Mallon, saying that more than 1,000 tickets seized by police were being held legally on behalf of authorized Irish reseller Pro 10 and criticizing local Olympic organizers.

Hickey is a former judoka and is honorary life president of the Irish Judo Federation. He has been head of the OCI since 1989.

Hickey is also a senior vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees. In 2015, Hickey led the first European Games organized by the European Olympic Committee in Baku Azerbaijan.

Story by Reuters