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Shane Ross agrees to reimburse OCI funding for 2016

The new board at the OCI had sought an urgent meeting with Ross to restore its funding.

MINISTER FOR SPORT Shane Ross has agreed to reimburse the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) its outstanding funding for 2016, following a meeting with senior OCI figures this evening.

The government had withheld funds from the body since the arrest of former president Pat Hickey and the subsequent ticket touting scandal at last year’s Olympics in Brazil.

That money had continued to be withheld until a number of legacy issues were resolved by the OCI.

Minister Ross said: “I am very supportive of the efforts undertaken in recent months by the new board of the OCI and recognise the real progress made.

I am satisfied that the outstanding funding for 2016 was spent on athlete-related activities and is in order for reimbursement.

Ross met with new the OCI’s new president, Sarah Keane, and its honorary general secretary, Sarah O’Shea.

Last month, the new board at the OCI agreed to accept all the findings of the Moran report into the Rio Olympics ticketing affair.

The report found that Pro10, the OCI’s Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) for the Rio games, was not “fit for purpose” and merely acted to disguise the role of sports ticketing company THG in the process.

At this time, the board indicated it would seek an immediate meeting with Ross in order to ensure the reinstatement of its funding.

The board also said it would “not accept the return” of former OCI president Pat Hickey and it said it will “fully co-operate” with an investigation by the ethics commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into Hickey.

In terms of funding for this year and beyond, the Sports Minister said: “I will engage with the OCI and Sport Ireland in joint pursuit of continued progress in the months ahead.”

The OCI posted losses of €800,000 for 2016, after the fallout from the ticketing scandal cost the organisation €1.5 million.

It was described as a “chaotic, dramatic, traumatic and extremely costly” year by Keane.

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Read: Pat Hickey resigns from the IOC’s executive board ‘with immediate effect’

Read: OCI to meet for first time since publication of report into Rio ticketing scandal