Rio inquiry: A report that serves little purpose

Indifference to athletes and their families on tickets a damning indictment of the OCI under Hickey’s baton

Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey. A new report into the Rio Olympics ticket controversy sheds little light and even less new information on a shambolic episode in Irish sport. Photograph: Alan Betson

Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey. A new report into the Rio Olympics ticket controversy sheds little light and even less new information on a shambolic episode in Irish sport. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

When the Government commissioned Mr Justice Carroll Moran to conduct an inquiry into the Rio Olympics ticket controversy, there were predictions in political quarters that the inquiry would be wide-ranging and uncover any mismanagement of tickets at last summer’s games. The promise was held out that allegations of ticket touting by key individuals would be thoroughly investigated and that the whole tawdry affair - which ended with the humiliating arrest of then Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey - would be a line in the sand for the future.

Those expectations have been exposed as wishful thinking with yesterday’s publication of the findings of the non-statutory State inquiry. Apart from some question marks over the close relationship between international ticket agent THG and Hickey , the well-documented autocratic control by Hickey of the running of the Olympic Council and its poor corporate governance, the publication of the much-delayed report sheds little light and even less new information on a shambolic episode in Irish sport.

Hamstrung from the outset by the lack of co-operation from Hickey, the International Olympic Committee, and OCI members because of pending criminal charges in Brazil, the inquiry was always likely to prove a very expensive exercise that allowed the government and Minster for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, the opportunity to offload a hot potato onto the shoulders of a highly-respected retired judge.

The frustration of Mr Justice Moran is evident throughout the 235-page report and his efforts to solicit even a reply to from ROCOG ( the Rio Organising Committee for the Games) who were to the forefront of objecting to ticket agency THG, is a telling illustration of how others were evaluating the inquiry. The reluctance of many of the principal parties to engage was predicted by informed commentators at the time and those forecasts have come to pass. Unfortunately, the bill for discovering most of the information that was already in the public domain came at a cost of €312,000.

Assertions by Minister Ross last year that the non-statutory aspect of the inquiry would not be an issue proved to be as ill-founded as Hickey’s claim that the Olympic Council of Ireland conducted all its business in open and transparent manner. The indifference to athletes and their families on tickets was a damning indictment of the OCI under Hickey’s baton and is perhaps the most important aspect of Justice Moran’s limited report. The newly-formed OCI executive, under Sarah Keane, has already put in train a range of measures to rectify those flaws.

But that aside, the report is mostly purposeless. Maybe Mr Ross, who recently put forward the proposal that Dublin should consider a bid for the Olympics, would have been better advised to spend the €300,000 on a feasibility study for his novel but ridiculous idea.

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