Olympic Council ‘put commercial interests ahead of athletes’
Hickey ‘looking forward to resuming Olympic duties’ after report’s publication
Former OCI president Pat Hickey. File photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES
Pat Hickey pictured as Brazilian police arrived at his hotel in August 2016.
A report into the Olympic ticket touting controversy has found the Olympic Council of Ireland prioritised its commercial interests over the concerns of athletes.
A 226-page report by Mr Justice Carroll Moran into the controversy was published on Monday with minor redactions.
However the judge confirmed the failure of a number of key players to engage imposed “a major impediment in the preparation of this report”.
Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey, the OCI’s ticket re-seller THG, Ireland’s ticket resellers for the Rio games Pro10, the International Olympic Committee and the Rio Organising Committee of the Olympic Games did not co-operate with his inquiry.
The parties availed of their right against self-incrimination, Mr Justice Moran said while acknowledging and respecting that position.
However he said his findings therefore are based only on the contributions of those who were willing or able to participate.
The judge said the agreements reached with THG and Pro10 showed little concern for the athletes, their friends, relatives and supporters or for those of the spectating public.
Instead it focused on the commercial interests and the mutual financial benefit to the Olympic Council of Ireland and THG.
In a statement, Mr Hickey claimed there were “significant inaccuracies” in the report but he was “pleased to see my reputation and good name have been cleared” and that there is “no allegation of criminality or financial impropriety”.
A member of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, he added he looked forward “to resuming my international Olympic duties”.
Mr Justice Moran was asked by the Government to examine the “policies, procedure, processes, and practices” of ticket distribution adopted by the Olympic Council of Ireland from the London 2012 to the 2016 games in Rio.
However due to the lack of co-operation the judge focused his work on the 2016 games in Brazil.
The inquiry was established after a senior executive at THG was arrested in Rio carrying tickets that came from the OCI and Pro10. Pro10 was the authorised re-seller or distributor of tickets for the OCI after THG’s bid was rejected.
In spite of this, the investigation found a long-standing relationship between Mr Hickey and chief executive of Marcus Evans, the UK owner of controversial British ticket agency THG.
It said THG remained as the effective re-seller at the games and Pro10 was not a genuine distributor but “its involvement disguised the continuing role of THG and Marcus Evans as the real or de facto” re-seller.
The report says Mr Hickey strongly supported the application of THG as the ticket re-seller and claimed he went to “great lengths” to allay any concerns raised.
“When this failed, one of the early options considered by Mr Evans and communicated to Mr Hickey was the formation of a new company to act as the ATR with some contractual and/or agency relationship with the OCI and the Marcus Evans group”.
This suggestion was followed shortly after by the registration of the Pro10 as a business name.
The judge said the firm was not genuine and provided an inadequate and chaotic service.
Mr Moran said THG and Pro10 showed “more concern for the commercial interests of the ATR (authorised ticket re-seller) than for the interests of the athletes, their friends, relatives and supporters or for those of the spectating public”.
The Moran report found a fee of $1 million was paid by THG to the OCI for THG’s role as the re-seller for the Olympic games in London in 2012 and at Sochi in 2014.
“This was done without an explanation being given at the time as to how it would recoup this sum or earn a return on such a large outlay.”
Pro10 also paid $600,000 for its rights as re-seller at the games in 2016. Individual purchasers of the tickets cannot be traced and it was also not possible to ascertain how many of the OCI tickets were sold by Pro10 or THG.
Mr Moran recommends against establishing a statutory Commission of Investigation into the controversy.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he accepted and agreed with the position by the judge.
He said: “It is regrettable that the parties concerned chose not to assist Judge Moran in his inquiries. I believe that if they had co-operated this report would be more complete.”
The cost of the inquiry, which began its work on September 19th 2016, was €312,765.