Pat Hickey is set to lose his EOC presidency

Change will happen regardless of outcome of the still pending ticket-touting charges

Former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey, is still awaiting a court date to face ticket-touting charges in Brazil. Photograph: Getty Images

Former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey, is still awaiting a court date to face ticket-touting charges in Brazil. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Pat Hickey is about to lose his presidency of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), no matter what the outcome of the still pending ticket-touting charges related to last summer’s Rio Games.

It’s now nine months since Hickey’s dawn arrest in Rio on the morning August 17th 2016, and five months since he arrived back in Ireland after paying a court bond of €410,000, on the provision he return to Brazil to face the series of ticket-touting charges including ambush marketing, theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association.

With a court date still undecided and instead increasing speculation the case may simply be dropped, the former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) remains in limbo: in February, Sarah Keane was elected to replace Hickey as OCI president, a position he had held largely unchallenged since 1989.

Hickey had also temporarily stepped aside from his presidency of the EOC, which he has held since 2006, and also his seat on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee: he also stepped aside as vice-president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), who had put up his court bond.

However, at a meeting of the EOC executive board in Skopje, Macedonia yesterday, acting EOC president President Janez Kocijancic from Slovenia told the Inside The Games website that Hickey’s current status effectively ruled him out of the next EOC presidential race, the vote for which takes place in November.

Kocijancic, the current vice-president of the EOC, is now likely to take Hickey’s presidency

“We do not expect that the procedure against Patrick Hickey in Brazil will be finished by then,” Kocijancic told Inside The Games. “It is a short period of time.

“We consider, as we said on several occasions, that he is not guilty of the criminal offences he is accused of. We hope he will be able to prove it in the legal procedure, which is happening in Brazil. For the time being, it is not possible for him to return. What will happen afterwards, I do not know.”

Kocijancic, the current vice-president of the EOC, is now likely to take Hickey’s presidency: at age 71, Hickey is still entitled to remain on the IOC executive board until the age of 80, although that may hinge on the outcome of the court case.

Similar cases have taken at least 18 months before getting a court date, and if found guilty, Hickey could be facing up to seven years in jail, although a person serving a custodial sentence for such offences in Brazil would be rare. On his return him in December, Hickey stated his intention to both adhere to that process and clear his name.

“I intend to adhere to any requests made by the Brazilian authorities and I will do everything possible to clear my name so that I can, in due course, get on with my life with my wife and family,” he said in a statement.

Central to the release of his passport in December was the condition Hickey agrees “to attend all aspects of the ongoing legal process” with regard to those charges of ticket-touting during the Rio Games and that “in his absence that he maintain representation to receive intimations of the court”.

In the meantime the non-statutory state inquiry into the Rio ticketing scandal, which is being conducted by former High Court judge Mr Justice Carroll Moran and began on September 19th, has still to be published, due to ongoing “time issues”: an extended deadline of March 31st was set, but that has now passed, and while an interim report has been circulated to certain relevant parties, the final outcome of that inquiry would also appear to be some way off.

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