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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
ticket touting

Brazilian police have confiscated passports, laptops and phones from OCI officials in Rio today

Detained former OCI chief Pat Hickey will appear before a Brazilian judge on Tuesday as part of an investigation into black market ticket sales.

Rio Olympics 2016 PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Updated 17.59pm

BRAZILIAN POLICE have confiscated passports, laptops and phones from Olympic Council of Ireland officials in Rio de Janeiro.

The board of the OCI were due to meet in Rio today, and were met by Brazilian police at their offices in the Olympic village, and at their hotel outside of the village.

No arrests were made, but police took possession of their passports along with their phones and laptops.

An OCI statement said:

The OCI personnel were asked to present for questioning at a local police station on Tuesday 23 August. They agreed to do so.

The OCI statement also said that police had took possession of  official tickets in their offices “which had been made available for athletes’ families and friends” but which were unused.

Pat Hickey, who has temporarily stepped back from his role as OCI president, will appear before a Brazilian judge on Tuesday as part of an investigation into black market ticket sales.

Hickey was the longstanding OCI president and also head of the European Olympic Committees until he was detained on Wednesday. He stands accused of involvement in a ticket scam, ambush marketing and conspiracy over the sale of Rio Olympics tickets at inflated prices.

Time restrictions

Meanwhile, pressure is growing on longstanding leaders of Irish sporting organisations, with Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly calling for a time limit to be placed.

The politician, former President of the GAA, was speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme about the ongoing ticket scandal in Rio.

The Olympic Council of Ireland’s Pat Hickey, who has temporarily stepped aside as president, remains in one of Brazil’s most notorious prisons.

President since 1980s

He has held the role since 1988.

“We have it in the GAA… if you have people in office for too long, naturally then you have friends etc., around them and they are going to have a lot of power,” said Kelly.

Using the GAA as an example, he said there are time restrictions in which a person can hold office in roles such as county board members and the position of CEO.

8/8/2012. Con Houlihan Funerals Scenes Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Former GAA President and current Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly. Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

He said imposing a time limit on how long a person can be head of office is a “real solution” and a “good place to start”.

You will have a constant change in officers that come in and do their job and then move on.

‘Clear out’

Former Irish world champion Éamon Coughlan told The Sunday Times today, meanwhile, there should be a “clear out” of the Olympic Council of Ireland.

There are too many people in there for too long.

The senator said he would be happy to take up a seat within the organisation if it were to increase public confidence.

“It is a sorry time for the Olympic movement in Ireland,” he said.

Republic of Ireland v Sweden - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade de France Mike Egerton FAI Chief Executive John Delaney (left), Patrick Hickey (centre) and Emma English in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016. Mike Egerton

The calls for change comes ahead of the Olympic Council’s first meeting in relation the scandal, which is  due to be held this evening.

The meeting will chaired by the OCI’s Acting President Willie O’Brien, who took over for Hickey on a temporary basis after his arrest.

It’s expected that 11 of the 12 board members of the OCI, including former Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney, and Head of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane.

London Olympic Games - Day 5 Yui Mok Pat Hickey and IOC member, Sonia O'Sullivan and former boxer Barry McGuigan at a reception in 2012. Yui Mok

RTÉ reports the legal team for Hickey has said in a statement he is being held in prison this weekend based on assumptions that are not “supported by any material evidence or proof”.

While the police investigation is ongoing, the terms of reference of a non-statutory inquiry are due to be announced by Sports Minister Shane Ross in the coming days.

There has been criticism of the establishment of such an inquiry, which will be headed up by a retired judge, over its lack of power in compelling witnesses to give evidence.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley said on the This Week radio programme that he worried the inquiry will not succeed in getting to the “nub” of the situation.

In terms of clearing out the OCI, Dooley said it was a matter for the federations who appoint the board.

However, he did say it is important that the State puts in place the appropriate resources and has a detailed independent investigation that gets to the truth of the matter, “so that when these federations sit down to decide who they want to lead the Olympic Council into the future they have all the facts available”.

With reporting from Darragh Peter Murphy.

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