IOC promises to co-operate with Brazil’s ticket investigation
Thomas Bach missed opening of Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pledged to co-operate with Brazilian authorities investigating alleged ticket touting during Rio 2016.
IOC president Thomas Bach yesterday missed the opening of the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, where police wanted to interview him about the case. It is the first time an IOC president has missed the opening of a Paralympics since they were held in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in 1988.
Pat Hickey, president of the Olympic Committee of Ireland, and Dublin finance director of UK sports hospitality company THG Sports Kevin Mallon have been formally charged in Brazil over their alleged roles in the affair.
The charges include supplying tickets for the purpose of touting, false advertising, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
Police claim they plotted with others to transfer tickets illegally from a sports company called Pro 10 to THG Sports, which was a non-authorised vendor. Police investigators said the scheme could have netted $3 million.
Police investigator Aloysio Falcao said authorities want to speak to Mr Bach about exchanges between him and Mr Hickey related to ticket allocations to Ireland.
Text messages seen by The Irish Times show Mr Hickey personally lobbied Mr Bach for more tickets for high-profile events at the Rio Games. He texted Mr Bach in July of last year comparing the 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, including the opening and closing ceremonies, the men’s football final, the men’s basketball final and the men’s 100 metres final.
It is not clear if Mr Bach replied or took any action relating to Mr Hickey’s request.
Mr Falcao said police had planned to “summon” Mr Bach when he came to Rio for Wednesday’s opening ceremony of the Paralympics, adding that authorities have no evidence that he knew of the alleged ticket scam.
However, Mr Bach cancelled plans to attend the opening. The IOC said he would be in Germany instead for the official state mourning ceremony for former West German president Walter Scheel, who died last month at the age of 97.
The Brazilian newspaper Globo said Mr Bach would be subpoenaed as a witness if he came to Brazil.
“The IOC cannot comment on a newspaper story nor on the ongoing legal procedure against Hickey for whom the presumption of innocence prevails,” the IOC said in a statement. “For the IOC it goes without saying that it will co-operate on this matter.”
Mr Hickey (71) was arrested on August 17th in a Rio hotel.
He was questioned at a police station in northern Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday but declined to answer additional questions. He also declined to speak to waiting media on entering and leaving the police station with his lawyer.
Mr Hickey has temporality stepped aside from all his Olympic roles - IOC member, IOC executive board representative, OCI president, head of the European Olympic Committees and vice president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Brazilian police have said they expect to name at least one more Irish person as
Investigators have also found evidence linking 35 other National Olympic Committees to the Marcus Evans group.