OCI election: All you need to know about tonight’s EGM
Who is favourite; how will the vote work; who has a vote and what will it take to win a seat
Pat Hickey was president of the Olympic Council of Ireland from 1989. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
1. Why are these OCI elections and this EGM such a big deal?
For the first time in almost three decades, the OCI will have a new president, Pat Hickey owning the position largely unchallenged since 1989, winning a record seventh four-year term in 2014. Hickey had indicated that would be his last term, the Rio Olympic ticket-touting charges last August rubber-stamping that decision as he stepped aside in the immediate aftermath. All five OCI officer positions and the seven executive committee members are also up for election.
2. Who are the candidates to succeed Hickey?
Acting OCI president Willie O’Brien, who took over last August after Hickey stepped aside, Swim Ireland CEO and current OCI executive member Sarah Keane, and Bernard O’Byrne, former CEO of the FAI and currently CEO of Basketball Ireland.
3. Who is the favourite?
Keane appears to have won the most public support from the 34 national governing bodies of sport affiliated to the OCI, including swimming, athletics, rowing, hockey, sailing, gymnastics, Paralympics, and snow sports. O’Brien will have the support of the old Hickey guard plus his own sport, archery, along with ice hockey and wrestling. He will also have the backing of several existing executive committee members, and will certainly give Keane a run for it. O’Byrne, admittedly an “outsider”, has been campaigning hard but winning precious little public support.
4. How many votes will it take to win?
It’s a simple “first past the post” ballet. All 34 national governing bodies have one vote, plus the existing OCI executive and officers (originally 13, now numbering eight, with Hickey stepping aside, O’Brien not entitled to vote for himself, and also less the now resigned second vice-president John Delaney, honorary treasurer Kevin Kilty, and executive member Ciarán Ó Catháin).
Under the articles of the OCI, Pat Hickey is still entitled to both a vote and seat on the executive, given his role within the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but he has declined this right, again pending the outcome of the Rio ticket-touting charges, and won’t be present on the night.
5. What happens if it’s a tied vote?
The OCI chairman (normally the president, but in this case to be voted on in advance of the night, from the current executive), will have the deciding vote. There will likely be 42 votes in the room, if everyone shows up, and there are no abstentions so 22 votes will assure victory.
5. Who exactly are those 34 national governing bodies of sport affiliated to the OCI?
Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bobsleigh, Boxing, Canoeing, Curling, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Judo, Modern Pentathlon, Paralympics, Rowing, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Snowsports, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
6. What are the other elections taking place on the night?
As well as OCI president, there will be a vote for first vice-president, second vice president, honorary general secretary, honorary treasurer, plus the seven further members of the executive committee. (The 13th member off the committee, the athletes commission representative, is voted on at another date).
William Kennedy, a member of the OCI executive since 1992, is now the sole nominee as honorary treasurer. Nicholas Jermyn, who had also been nominated by his federation, Badminton Ireland, has withdrawn his name from the ballot thus ensuring Kennedy is now guaranteed the position for the next four years.
Colm Barrington (sailing) and Martin Fleming (taekwondo), both new candidates, will contest the first vice president role. Colin Buckley (weightlifting) and Robert Norwood (snowsports, and existing council member) will contest the second vice president position. Dermot Henihan (rowing, and existing honorary general secretary and Sarah O’Shea (snowsports, and former deputy CEO of the FAI) will vie for the role of honorary general secretary.
There are 18 candidates for the seven executive committee member positions. Sonia O’Sullivan won’t be seeking re-election but will be present to vote on the night. Boxer Darren O’Neill, the outgoing athletes’ representative, is the only one with proper hands-on Olympic experience.
7. How soon before we know the outcome?
The EGM gets underway at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin at 8pm, and will begin with a report on the Rio Olympics (from OCI chief executive Stephen Martin), then the general secretary’s report (Dermot Henihan), the treasurer’s report (William Kennedy), before the elections begin.
The voting will be managed and verified by Byrne Wallace, Solicitors, along with two nominees from the national federations. Voting starts with the president’s position and will move swiftly down the list; the result of each ballot will be announced on its completion, and verification, by the solicitors and national federation observers.