OCI board unanimously agrees not to take Pat Hickey back

International Olympic Committee ethics body seeks information about ex-Irish chief

Pat Hickey:  Mr Justice Moran outlined how Mr Hickey  governed the OCI since his election as president in 1989, and was highly critical of the way athletes and fans were treated regarding ticket allocations at  Rio last summer

Pat Hickey: Mr Justice Moran outlined how Mr Hickey governed the OCI since his election as president in 1989, and was highly critical of the way athletes and fans were treated regarding ticket allocations at Rio last summer

 

The board of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has unanimously agreed not to accept the return of its former president Pat Hickey, who is involved in legal proceedings in Brazil over alleged ticket touting at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The powerful ethics commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has contacted the OCI requesting information regarding Mr Hickey, who was president of the Irish Olympic movement for 27 years before his resignation at the height of the ticketing controversy last year.

The information sought includes the highly critical findings set out in the report of retired judge Carroll Moran Moran into the former president, and details of the ticketing fiasco in Rio last summer.

The OCI met on Wednesday night in Dublin to discuss and vote on the request. The board agreed to co-operate with the ethics commission, an investigative wing set up by the international sporting body and likely to be soon chaired by Ban Ki-moon, the former United Nations secretary general. The IOC meets in Lima, Peru, in September to decide on his candidacy.

For some time the International Olympic Committee has been monitoring reports emanating from the Irish media and elsewhere regarding the Rio ticketing scandal and the various reports into the matter, including those carried out by Deloitte, Grant Thornton and Mr Justice Moran.

‘Cooperate’

In a statement atfer the meeting, the OCI said it was aware of the IOC Ethics Commission investigation regarding Mr Hickey.

“Tonight the board agreed to fully cooperate with that investigation and to share and provide requested information and documentation to the Commission, including the Moran Report,” it said.

“We expect that this process may take some time to reach a conclusion. Nonetheless the board tonight unanimously agreed that it would not accept the return of the former President to the OCI Board.”

The six hour OCI meeting, the first since the completion of the Moran report, went late into Wednesday night.

It said it accepted all of Mr Justice Moran’s findings, and that it would attempt to address his concerns with regard to “the absence of a full reconciliation of tickets and ticket revenue”.

Following the decision by the Pyeonchang Organising Committee to terminate the OCI’s Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) arrangements for the 2018 Winter Games, the board said it had decided to handle all ticketing arrangements for these Games itself. However, Ireland is expected to have a small team of between five and 10 athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Games.

Separately, the OCI said it will now seek an immediate meeting with Minister for Sport Shane Ross “with a view to expediting the reinstatement of State funding” to protect the future planning and preparation of athletes.

“The board is eager to move forward, to take the learnings [SIC]from the past and to focus its time and energy on implementing its reform agenda and concentrating on athletes, their families, coaches, and member federations to ensure that it delivers for them in their pursuit of the Olympic dream and ideals,” it said.

Irish contribution

The meeting on Wednesday night was to officially discuss and decide on the International Olympic Committee request, which – given the reformed nature of the OCI board – was a formality.

The agreement between the OCI and International Olympic Committee will begin the Irish contribution to a process that sets out to discover if Mr Hickey breached the ethics enshrined in the Olympic Charter.

Following a string of scandals from International Olympic Committee members over recent years, the sporting body is cracking down on what it perceives to be behaviour contrary to the guiding principles contained in its charter.

The ethics commission has the authority to propose sanctions to the International Olympic Committee executive board, and has as recently as last year suspended one of its elite Korean members and reprimanded an African member.

If it is found that Mr Hickey has breached the International Olympic Committee charter he could be suspended from his position as an executive member of the International Olympic Committee. He is the highest ranking sports administrator in Ireland.

The OCI’s agreement to co-operate will be central to the ethics commission’s investigation. Mr Justice Moran outlined how Mr Hickey governed the OCI since his election as president in 1989, and was highly critical of the way athletes and fans were treated regarding ticket allocations at the Olympic Games in Rio last summer.

Mr Justice Moran’s report found the OCI showed “more concern for the commercial interests of the authorised ticket resellers than for the interests of the athletes, their friends, relatives and supporters”.

It also found Mr Hickey and Marcus Evans, the boss of THG, a ticket reseller rejected as unsuitable by the Rio Organising Committee, had a “concealed relationship” of mutual benefit to both the OCI and THG.

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