Inquiry into alleged sale of Irish tickets for Olympics

Police recover over 1,000 tickets believed destined for Olympic Council of Ireland

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) says it is investigating how an Irish man arrested in Brazil was allegedly illegally selling Olympic Games tickets earmarked for the organisation.

Kevin Mallon was picked up at a hotel near the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, along with a translator, last Friday. Brazilian police yesterday said they recovered more than 1,000 tickets, believed to have been destined for the OCI, which were being sold for more than face value.

Mr Mallon is an executive at sports hospitality company THG Sports which was the OCI’s authorised ticket reseller for the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The OCI says Stephen Hickey, the son of OCI president Pat Hickey, was a temporary manager at THG Sports at the time of the Olympic Games in London.

In a statement, the OCI said it had “no knowledge” of the two people arrested and had begun an investigation with its authorised ticket reseller “into how these individuals were allegedly in possession of OCI allocated tickets”.

“The OCI strictly adheres to the IOC [International Olympic Committee] regulations around ticket allocation, sale and re-sale. We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness,” it said.

Arrested

The OCI said it was no longer linked in any way with THG Sports. Irish company Pro 10 Sports Management has taken on the role for the Rio Games.

Calls to THG's London and Chicago offices went unanswered yesterday. The Irish Times understands that Stephen Hickey is not in Rio.

THG Sports chief executive James Sinton was arrested during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and accused by police of heading up a “ticketing mafia”. He was later freed after paying a fine and left the country.

A spokesperson for Rio's judicial system told the Irish Times that Mr Mallon's case would likely be assigned to a judge today who would then set the date for a hearing.

In 2012, former footballer Romário, now a Brazilian senator, accused Pat Hickey of being involved in ticket touting for the 2012 Summer Games and the 2014 Winter Games. He said Pat Hickey was the link between the IOC and firms selling tickets on the black market.

Pat Hickey dismissed the accusations.

Pat Hickey and Stephan Hickey

In an article in the editions of August 9th, 2016, entitled ‘Inquiry into alleged sale of Irish tickets for Olympics’, it was reported that Kevin Mallon, an executive at sports hospitality company THG Sports, had been arrested in Rio for allegedly illegally selling Olympic tickets. The article further stated as follows: “THG Sports is managed by Stephen Hickey, the son of OCI president Pat Hickey”. In fact, Stephan Hickey was only ever temporarily employed by THG Sports during the 2012 London Olympics to run a bar called “The Irish House”. He has not worked for THG Sports since that time. There is no suggestion of any direct connection between either Pat Hickey or Stephan Hickey and the criminal investigation into alleged illegal ticket sales being undertaken by authorities in Rio. We are happy to make this clear and we apologise to both for the error and the upset caused.