OCI appoints legal firm in Brazil to ‘represent its interests’

Olympic Council of Ireland also hires accountancy firm to review Rio ticketing arrangements


After a meeting of its executives that lasted over five hours, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has decided to appoint a legal firm in Brazil “to represent its interests” there.

It will also hire an international accountancy firm to review its controversial “ticketing arrangements” for the Rio Games.

The moves were announced just before 2:40am today after the first meeting of the council’s executive committee since the controversy around the alleged illegal sale of tickets in Brazil resulted in the arrest of OCI president Pat Hickey in Rio.

Last night’s meeting was attended by OCI vice president and Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney, one of six OCI figures whose passports the Brazilian authorities said it wanted to seize.

The council said Mr Delaney had never travelled to Rio but was unable to say if it had been his intention to travel to the Olympics before the ticketing controversy began.

It also emerged in the early hours of this morning that the acting president of the OCI William O’Brien – who is filling that role at present while Mr Hickey is being detained in prison in Rio –had arrived in Ireland from Brazil yesterday.

When asked by The Irish Times whether Mr O’Brien had come home earlier than initially planned, the OCI said his transport arrangements were part of a scheduled plan.

The OCI also confirmed Mr O’Brien remains as the acting president despite being named as one of six OCI people on the warrant issued by the Rio court authorising the seizure of the passports of those named.

The warrant was issued on Saturday by the same Rio court that authorised the arrest of Mr Hickey last week and the detention of Irish man Kevin Mallon on August 5th.

As well as vice president Mr Delaney and acting president Mr O’Brien, also on the list issued by the court are OCI officials Linda O’Reilly, Dermot Henihan, Kevin Kilty and Stephen Martin.

The council’s executive committee meeting that lasted until the early hours of this morning began on 9.30pm on Sunday at the offices of solicitors Arthur Cox in Dublin’s south inner city. It was delayed to facilitate Mr O’Brien’s participation on his arrival from Rio.

Crisis management

It was decided that a three-person “crisis management subcommittee” would be appointed to “lead the council’s response to the recent events in Rio”.

The group is comprised of OCI executive committee members Sarah Keane of Swim Ireland, Prof Ciaran O’Cathain of Athletics Ireland and Robert Norwood of Snowsports Association of Ireland. Unlike many of the other executive members, all three are relative newcomers to their roles having been appointed in the last two and a half years.

On behalf of the OCI Prof O’Cathain read a prepared statement to the media at the conclusion of the meeting this morning saying the executive committee had “discussed recent events in Rio regarding ticketing arrangements and the Games which it takes very seriously”.

He said of the international accountancy firm to be appointed to independently review ticketing arrangements: “The firm will be selected this week and its work will begin immediately and its terms of reference will be published.

“The report prepared by the firm will be presented to the judge who will chair the State inquiry into the OCI’s handling of ticketing at the Rio Olympics.”

After reading the short statement Prof O’Cathain declined to take any questions.

The executive committee meeting was attended by Mr O’Brien, Ms Keane, Prof O’Cathain, Mr Norwood, Mr Delaney and Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Sonia O’Sullivan.

Also present were former Irish Amateur Boxing Association president Thomas Murphy, current president of the Irish Fencing Association Tom Rafter and former international cyclist Billy Kennedy; the latter by Skype from France where he is currently holidaying.

Also present but in an honorary capacity and with no voting rights were former honorary general secretary Dermot Sherlock and former honorary treasurer Peader Casey.

It had been announced in 2014 that Mr Sherlock and Mr Casey, both of whom are elderly, were stepping down from their roles. However, the OCI last night confirmed they were permitted to attend executive meetings, apparently because they had both served for so long with the council.

Mr Sherlock is a former British and Irish Universities boxing champion and had been honorary general secretary from 1992 to 2014.

Mr Casey was Irish Olympic rowing manager at the 1976 and 1980 Games, Deputy Chef de Mission in 1996 and Chef de Mission in Sydney 16 years ago. He had been honorary treasurer from 1997 to 2014.