Belfast Telegraph

Rio Olympics allegations only reinforce public fears over staging of greatest show on Earth

By Jamil Chade

I received a call very early in the morning - at 5am Brazil time. The police were beginning an operation at the Windsor Hotel at around 6am.

They went to the hotel, in the Barra district.

This hotel is the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Rio and is also where Pat Hickey was staying. The police went in, went directly to his room and knocked on the door.

His wife opened the door and she said he was not there. She said she did not know where he was. She looked nervous.

For a second, the police thought that he had escaped, but they saw his shoes, socks and his open suitcase, which were still in the room.

So they began to search the hotel - they went to the gym, the breakfast room, the restaurant.

Then someone realised his son was also staying at the hotel and had a room in his name. They went to his son's room and Mr Hickey answered the door. He had not escaped at all.

His passport, identification, a return air ticket, three laptops and two mobile phones were all taken from him.

Because of his age and his condition, the doctor at the hotel advised to take him to the hospital as a precaution.

He was then taken to hospital and is due to be transferred to the police station for questioning later.

At a Press conference, the police outlined the three crimes that he is suspected of as: formation of a criminal association, sales of illegal ticketing and marketing without authorisation.

During the action, the police officers seized about 1,000 tickets that were sold for amounts well above the price set by the organisation of the Olympics.

But many of these tickets were referenced to the IOC members. Many of them were on behalf of the Olympic Committee of Ireland, including high-value tickets for the opening ceremony.

If it was just one or two tickets found, you might say it was a travel agent who bought one or two.

So the police suspect that this is either a scam or a system to transfer the tickets to a company that can sell them.

All of the tickets were voided after the arrests, police said.

What happens now for Mr Hickey remains to be seen.

He can be detained for a number of days by police as soon as he is released from hospital.

What normally happens in a case like this in Brazil is that lawyers can file an injunction to get him to wait for trial, for house arrest, with a deposit of a couple of thousand dollars.

This is a huge story in Brazil. It is a big scandal. There was another story during the World Cup where another company was involved - a person from Fifa was involved in a ticket touting scandal.

This time, the situation is very similar.

There is a lot of suspicion related to the Olympic Games - suspicion of corruption, money laundering, ticket touting.

This latest news only adds to the concern that Brazilian people had about the organisation of the Games in Rio.

Belfast Telegraph


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