Pat Hickey had sent wish list of tickets for Rio 2016 Olympics
Text unfavourably compared OCI ticket allocation for Rio with what it received in 2012
Brazil’s Rafinha celebrates beating Germany in Rio: Pat Hickey had wanted tickets for that final. File photograph: Getty Images
Pat Hickey personally lobbied the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for more tickets for high-profile events at the Rio Games, a text message seen by The Irish Times indicates.
Mr Hickey texted Thomas Bach in July of last year comparing the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ticket allocation for Rio unfavourably with the one it had received for the London Games in 2012 and sent a “wish list” of significantly more tickets for some of the Games’ most sought-after events.
The OCI president, who temporarily stepped aside from the post following his arrest on August 17th, sought more tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies, the men’s football final, the men’s basketball final and the men’s 100 metres final.
The text is contained in a log of messages extracted from Mr Hickey’s phone which was seized by Brazilian police investigating allegations the OCI was involved in an alleged ticket touting operation at the Games run by British company THG, whose Dublin finance director Kevin Mallon was arrested in Rio on August 5th.
According to the text, Mr Hickey asked for an extra 200 tickets to go with the 42 already awarded for the men’s 100 metres final. He also sought to raise the OCI’s allocation for the opening ceremony from 38 to 188 and for the closing ceremony from 28 to 128.
He also asked for 500 tickets for the men’s football final after the OCI was given none for a competition for which Ireland did not qualify. Similarly, he sought 30 tickets for the men’s basketball final, another event for which Ireland did not qualify and for which the OCI was originally allocated no tickets.
It is not clear if Mr Bach replied or took any action relating to Mr Hickey’s request. The Irish Times has not been able to confirm either the OCI’s original ticket allocation or the final amount it was awarded for Rio.
Asked about its Rio allocation the OCI said: “As these matters are material to the State inquiry into the OCI handling of ticketing for the Rio Olympics, the OCI is unable to comment on them until the State inquiry has concluded its work.”
In an emailed reply to queries, the International Olympic Committee press office in Lausanne said: “The IOC President [Mr Bach] is not involved in commercial matters of ticketing programmes for each of the 206 NOCs [national Olympic committees], nor in the selection of an ATR [authorised ticket reseller], nor in the distribution of tickets by an ATR to third parties.” It said ticketing matters were dealt with by each national Olympic committee, in Ireland’s case the OCI, its chosen ATR and the local organising committee in Rio.
But contacted by The Irish Times, a member of the Rio committee with responsibility for ticketing said the ultimate decision maker on the matter was the IOC in Switzerland.
Mr Hickey sat on the IOC’s executive committee with Mr Bach until he temporarily stepped aside after his arrest.Despite Mr Hickey’s request to Mr Bach for more tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies, in an email he sent to THG owner Marcus Evans on August 3rd released by police he wrote: “I can confirm to you now that I do not require any of the opening or closing ceremony tickets that was part of our NOC allocation. You can use them all.”
The reported difficulty some Irish athletes had in securing tickets for themselves and their families for events in Rio will form part of the State inquiry set up by Minister for Sport Shane Ross.
THG was not authorised to sell tickets or ticketed hospitality in Brazil or abroad for the Games in Rio. Mr Hickey, Pro10 and THG all deny any wrongdoing.