Belfast Telegraph

Top Irish Olympic executives questioned by Rio police in ticket tout probe

Police in Rio de Janeiro have begun questioning two of Ireland's top Olympic executives in a ticket-scalping probe that has already ensnared the highest official.

The Olympic Council of Ireland's (OCI) team leader Kevin Kilty and chief executive Stephen Martin arrived at police headquarters on Thursday wearing the Irish team uniform.

"We are here to fully co-operate. That's all I can say at the moment," Mr Kilty said to reporters as he entered the building.

Secretary general Dermot Henihan spoke to investigators on Tuesday but they ruled out his involvement in the scheme, saying there was no evidence that indicated wrongdoing on his part.

But Rio police suspect that the highest-ranking members of the OCI plotted with businessmen to help transfer tickets to an unauthorised vendor who would sell them for high fees disguised as hospitality services.

The three officials' passports, phones and laptops were seized in an Olympic Village raid hours before the closing ceremony. Police found 228 tickets in Mr Kilty's room, which the Irishman told police were reserved for athletes but had been left unused.

The alleged scheme unravelled at the beginning of the Games when Kevin Mallon, head of the British hospitality provider THG, was arrested in Rio with tickets that were allocated to the OCI.

OCI president Patrick Hickey, 71, was arrested last week in a dawn raid at his hotel and transferred to a hospital with chest pains.

A member of the International Olympic Committee's ruling executive board, Mr Hickey was in charge of the influential umbrella group for Europe's Olympic bodies.

Now he faces charges of conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing, with authorities accusing him of being part of a plot to make three million US dollars (£2.3 million) by illegally selling Rio Games tickets above face value.

The strongest evidence police have found are emails exchanged between Mr Hickey and the head of a company that was not an authorised vendor discussing opening and closing ceremony tickets to resell.

Mr Hickey is held in Rio's Bangu prison complex. His lawyer has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the case.



From Belfast Telegraph