Report paints troubling picture of OCI’s accountability over tickets

Failure of key figures to co-operate with inquiry leaves many questions unanswered

Former OCI president Pat Hickey. Mr Justice Carroll Moran’s report points to discrepancies between Mr Hickey’s public statements and the documentation made available to the inquiry. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Former OCI president Pat Hickey. Mr Justice Carroll Moran’s report points to discrepancies between Mr Hickey’s public statements and the documentation made available to the inquiry. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

At the end of the 2016 Olympic games, a total of 223 tickets remained in a safe in the Olympic Council of Ireland’s offices in Brazil.

The majority of those had been designated for the families, friends and trainers of Irish athletes competing at the world’s biggest sporting event.

One of the most critical findings of the report by Mr Justice Carroll Moran is the manner in which the OCI treated those it ought to serve – the athletes.

Tickets assigned for the friends and families of competitors were given by the OCI to authorised ticket reseller Pro10, to be sold on. This did not happen by accident.

Mr Justice Moran confirmed a contract had been signed between Pro10 and the OCI in respect of the Rio games. The agreement saw a $100,000 rights fee exchanged on the basis that Pro10 received family tickets for premium events.

In respect of Rio 2016, Pro 10 was to get all 46 family tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies and almost all the tickets for five of the athletics finals. This breached the governance rules set by the Olympic organisers and allowed Pro10 the potential of making further returns.

Furthermore, Mr Moran found the OCI sought tickets for high-profile events rather than the various disciplines in which Irish athletes were competing.

Of the 14 sports Irish competitors participated in, the OCI requested tickets for five only. None was sought for sports where Ireland had significant medal expectations, including boxing and rowing.

The judge also found the OCI neglected the Irish supporters and failed to recognise fans as a legitimate stakeholder.

Lack of co-operation

Mr Moran’s report offers an insight into the sorry mess but fails to determine the full facts surrounding the arrangements between the OCI and THG and PRO10. Despite the public utterances of the key players involved, they opted not to co-operate with the inquiry as it might impact on ongoing criminal proceedings in Brazil.

Without the power to compel witnesses to speak or to acquire documents, the judge had little choice but to offer a narrative of the events that led to last summer’s controversy.

Perhaps Minister for Transport Shane Ross was naive to believe those involved would assist the judge in his work. Conscious of the length of time a statutory inquiry would take, the Government opted for a formal investigation with limited powers.

However, 12 months have passed since its establishment and the key questions from this saga remain unanswered.

The report does shed light on a number of key areas, including the long-standing relationship between former OCI president Pat Hickey and the UK owner of THG, Marcus Evans. It also shows the lengths Mr Hickey went to to ensure THG remained the official reseller for the OCI.

The judge also points to discrepancies between Mr Hickey’s public statements and the documentation made available to the inquiry.

Mr Moran said Mr Hickey sought to conceal his relationship with Mr Evans by claiming their contact ended after the Sochi games in 2014.

Email correspondence showed there was contact between the OCI and Mr Evans up to August 17th last, the date on which Mr Hickey was arrested in his hotel room in Rio by Brazilian police.

The report also worryingly highlights the lack of transparency and accountability within the OCI, a State-funded organisation.

The judge says Mr Hickey merely informed his colleagues on the executive committee of key decisions rather than consulting them.

The report does not answer many of the questions athletes and supporters might have about the affair, but it does paint a troubling picture.