Pat Hickey humbled by support and says he is ‘completely innocent’
Olympic figure vows to fight ticket charges and says he is not under house arrest
Pat Hickey: heartened and humbled by the “outpouring of support, letters, texts and emails from the thousands of people in Ireland”. Photograph: Humberto Ohana/Getty Images
Pat Hickey has said he intends to fight the charges laid against him in a Brazilian court in relation to alleged ticket touting during the Olympic Games in Rio.
In a statement released yesterday evening, Mr Hickey – who has temporarily stepped aside as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) – said he had just received formal notification from the Brazilian authorities of the charges laid against him.
“For clarity, I am not under house arrest as, like with so many things with this case, has been misreported by the media. I intend to face all the charges and to fight each and every one of them,” he said.
“I believe in the Brazilian judicial system and I am confident that I will be discharged of all accusations.
“This has been a life-changing experience for me, my wife, my four children and my five grandchildren and my priority is to recover my health and see my family as soon as possible.”
Mr Hickey said he had been very heartened and humbled by the “outpouring of support, letters, texts and emails from the thousands of people in Ireland and from the international sporting world”.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach is set to be the centre of attention again this week, with investigators saying they will formally make contact with him.
Last Thursday, police said they wanted to ask Mr Bach whether he acted on a request from Mr Hickey to increase the OCI’s ticket allocation for Rio.
It was a text from Mr Hickey sent in July of last year that has dragged Mr Bach into the controversy. Recovered by police from his mobile phone, the message shows the OCI head sought an extra 980 tickets from Mr Bach for the Rio opening and closing ceremonies, the men’s 100m event, basketball and football finals, which were among the most sought after events for the hospitality business.
On Friday, the IOC responded to the police comments by saying neither the committee nor its president had received a request from them for any information regarding the investigation. Now, investigators have told The Irish Times they will contact Mr Bach this week.
They have made clear their failure to do so, up until now, is because they had hoped to speak to him when he returned to Rio for the opening of the Paralympics last Wednesday.
But the IOC president, breaking with three decades of tradition, failed to show up for the ceremony, saying he would instead attend the state mourning for the late West German president Walter Scheel.
The IOC claims that neither the committee nor its president is involved in ticketing.
But investigators have asked, if that is the case, why did Mr Hickey, a member of the IOC’s executive committee and a veteran of six Summer Olympic Games before Rio, bother Mr Bach with his request.