Pat Hickey invited to European Games in Belarus
Former OCI president invited to attend as a guest of European Olympic Committees
Pat Hickey at the inaugural European Games four years ago in Baku. Photograph. Inpho
Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey has been invited to the European Games in Belarus without the approval of the reformed Irish Olympic body, now called the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI).
The OFI said yesterday that they were informed by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) that Hickey had been invited to the Games as a guest. Hickey is also a former president of the European organisation.
The EOC said that Hickey, who was a driving force behind the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015, “will have no role or function” in the nine day event that takes place in Minsk, Belarus later this month from June 21st-20th. The invitation was issued to him as a former president.
“We were surprised given that the court case in Brazil has not taken place yet,” said OFI chief executive Peter Sherrard. “We have confirmed that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) position is exactly the same and that he remains self suspended. The invitation did not come through us. The board does feel strongly about it.”
A few months after his arrest on ticket touting charges at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Hickey was strongly defended at the general assembly of EOC, also held in Minsk.
At that stage Hickey had temporarily stood aside as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland and as the acting-president of the EOC.
Both the acting head of the EOC Janez Kocijancic and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told the meeting that Hickey was innocent and there was a lack of evidence that he had committed any crimes.
Hickey, who was OCI president for 29 years, continues to claim his innocence and his trial in Brazil has been suspended with no date yet fixed as to when it may take place, if at all.
OFI President Sarah Keane, speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Sport where a report by Mr Justice Carroll Moran into the 2016 Rio ticketing controversy was being discussed, said that the current board “would have significant difficulty with the former president being involved again.”
The European Games will feature 199 events in 15 sports (23 disciplines) with the organisers expecting around 4,000 athletes from 50 countries. Ten of the sports will offer qualification opportunities for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.