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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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OCI president gives 'unreserved apology' to athletes and families after Rio ticketing disaster

During the Games, there were numerous reports of desperate family members of athletes having to go to other countries in order to secure tickets for events.

Paddy Barnes carries the Irish flag during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics
Paddy Barnes carries the Irish flag during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics
Image: David J. Phillip/PA Images

THE PRESIDENT OF the Olympic Council of Ireland has apologised unreservedly to athletes and their families for the widespread ticketing issues during last year’s Olympic Games.

Speaking yesterday following the release of a report by Justice Carroll Moran into the Rio ticketing scandal, OCI president Sarah Keane said that people affected by the controversy “deserved nothing less” than the full apology.

“It’s obvious that athletes, families and the Irish sporting public were very upset by what went on in Rio and I wish again to give an unreserved apology to them for any of the failings in Rio that affected them,” said Keane.

They deserve nothing less and I’m doing that on behalf of myself personally and the OCI executive committee.

Justice Moran’s report found that throughout the Rio Games there were multiple issues with Ireland’s Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) Pro10 and the oversight of the OCI.

Moran’s report found widespread failings on behalf of the OCI, which resulted in family members and members of the public not being able to avail of the tickets that were earmarked for them.

During the Games, there were numerous reports of desperate family members of athletes having to go to other countries in order to secure tickets for events. Other reports had family members queuing up in Rio to try to get tickets before events.

This is despite the OCI having previously guaranteed that each athlete in most events would be given two free tickets for family members.

The problems were mostly down to the Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) company Pro10 – which Justice Moran’s report referred to as “not fit for purpose” – being incapable of handling the demand.

Criticism

During the Inquiry Moran heard from family members of athletes and in his report found that the way in which the tickets were due to be distributed was confusing and not properly communicated.

“There was much confusion amongst the relatives of athletes from whom the Inquiry heard or received submissions as to the exact workings of this system, which appears to have resulted in few availing of it,” he wrote in his inquiry.

He found that there was insufficient communication on behalf of the OCI with athletes and families.

Commenting yesterday, Keane said the OCI could offer “no guarantees” around tickets in the future but that it would work harder to ensure families and fans’ needs were addressed.

“What we can say is first of all I think there was a lack on transparency on how it all operates,” she said.

“One of things that we are discussing at the moment is the idea of a hospitality house for Irish athletes and families and spectators in Japan.

I think that will help bring the community together… That’s something we’re definitely looking at and that’s something this board will be quite keen on doing.

Scandal

The Rio ticketing scandal centred around Pro10, ticket reselling company THG and then-president of the OCI Pat Hickey.

Hickey was arrested in dramatic fashion in a morning raid by Rio police and held for 11 days in a Brazil prison before being released.

Brazilian prosecutors later charged Hickey and nine others with ticket touting, conspiracy and ambush marketing.

The criminal case is ongoing.

Justice Moran’s report made no findings on whether any laws had been broken but did find widespread governance and transparency issues with the OCI.

Pat Hickey and THG both deny any criminal wrongdoing.

Comments have been disabled as legal proceedings are ongoing

Read: Olympic Council of Ireland locked into contract with company at centre of Rio ticketing scandal until 2026

Read: Pat Hickey and other key figures criticised for not cooperating with Rio ticketing probe

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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