This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 4 °C Monday 10 December, 2018
Advertisement

Shane Ross is on his way to Rio to get answers over the Olympics ticket scandal

The controversy kicked off with an arrest of an Irishman last week. Tonight Sports Minister Shane Ross will want answers from the Olympic Council of Ireland.

08/04/2016.General Election 2016 -Government Forma Sports Minister Shane Ross. Source: Leah Farrell

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross is on his way to Brazil today to meet with Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) President, Pat Hickey.

The number one item on the agenda is to discuss just what is going on with the Olympic Games tickets controversy.

An Irishman was arrested for allegedly touting Olympic Games tickets at exorbitant prices in Rio de Janeiro.

Last week, the minister said he was “not happy” about what had transpired and wanted answers.

What’s going on with the tickets? 

The debacle kicked off last week, when Irishman, Kevin James Mallon, was arrested for allegedly scalping Olympics tickets at exorbitant prices. A formal charge was made against him last week, the Irish Times reported.

Mallon was described as a director at British firm THG, which faced similar accusations during the 2014 World Cup.

He was arrested along with an interpreter at a Rio de Janeiro hotel as he allegedly sold tickets to around 20 buyers the day of the opening ceremony, police said in a statement.

Police seized 781 tickets being sold at “extremely high prices.”

Some of the tickets were believed to have been issued to the Olympic Council of Ireland.

London Olympic Games - Day 5 Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). Source: Yui Mok

Pat Hickey said there has been “no impropriety whatsoever” from anyone in the OCI in the dealing of tickets for the Olympic Games.

In a statement, the OCI said it is investigating how it ended up at the centre of a probe and said it had no knowledge of the two individuals arrested.

The OCI has launched an investigation with its authorised ticket reseller (ATR), Pro10, into how the individuals were allegedly in possession of OCI allocated tickets.

11/08/2016. Pro 10 Sports Management. Pictured the Pro 10 Sports Management offices in Lucan. Source: Sam Boal

What is Pro 10?

THG was not authorised to sell OCI tickets for the Rio Games.

The authorised reseller is Pro10 Sports Management, however, it is believed it did not have a representative in Rio.

The company maintains it has “acted properly and fully in line with ATR guidelines”.

In a statement Pro10 said Mallon, an employee of THG group, had tickets in his possession that were being held on Pro10′s behalf.

It stated these tickets were for collection by Irish and other European customers of Pro10 in Rio, who had already purchased the tickets.

These had been made available for sale through the authorised ATR process and were sold to legitimate customers of PRO10 at face value plus the allowed ATR reseller fee.

The company stated that it is normal practise for resellers to have many available tickets in Rio for collection and sale through the authorised processes at games time.

Pro10 said it has suffered “significant commercial loss” as a result of the tickets being seized and has Irish and European customers unable to buy tickets during game time through the authorised process.

Three separate investigations – and a criminal investigation – are now underway.

Rio Olympic Games 2016 - Day Four Olympic Games tickets Source: Martin Rickett

Criticism of Shane Ross

Since the incident came to light last week, Minister Ross has come in for some harsh criticism from some for his perceived lack of action over the controversy.

The Independent Alliance TD is used to being in the opposition benches, with this being his first ever ministerial post.

Former Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane radio programme today said his inexperience in a ministerial role was showing through this week. He said he believed Ross had been caught “napping” on the job.

I think what we’re seeing is the difference between someone operating in opposition and someone operating in government.

Obviously there is an issue that needs to be addressed, I just think in terms of how the government is operating there seems to be a big difference between people operating before government and how they are operating now.

He said the “bombastic nature” of Ross’s usual approach “is certainly coming short this week”. 

Ross was already scheduled to attend the games from 15 August, remaining in Rio until the Games’ closing ceremony on 22 August.

However, since the controversy, Ross said meeting with Hickey would be his first priority upon arriving in Brazil.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this week, Minister Ross called for an independent person to be involved in the OCI internal investigation over the ticket sale controversy.

“What I’m not happy about is the makeup of the committee because I think the independence of the OCI committee is something we should look at,” he said.

The problem here is that the Olympic Council of Ireland is a player itself … I want to know how the committee was picked to investigate this.

Brazil OLY Rio Ticket Scalping Source: AP/Press Association Images

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme today, Patrick O’Donovan, junior minister for sport, said he had not had any conversation with the OCI about the scandal.

He said he had written to his department to seek clarification on a number of issues, adding that the first meeting between the OCI and the department will be this evening, one week after the controversy kicked off, when Ross meets with Hickey.

O’Donovan said questions will be posed to the OCI and he said he expected “frank” answers to be given as to what has been going on.

Questions will also be asked about what independent element the OCI will have in their investigation, said O’Donovan, who said it was not satisfactory that the OCI would investigate the OCI.

Brazil OLY Rio Tickets Source: AP/Press Association Images

O’Donovan said his department has not heard from any of the 800 Irish people who apparently bought the tickets (the tickets in question were only for sale to Irish citizens).

He said he had heard from families of athletes that could not obtain tickets for events their loved ones were performing in.

O’Donovan said this situation “compounded their anger” and that they had to go around seeking tickets “cap in hand”.

A number of backbench TDs have spoken out about situation, stating there are more questions than answers being given to the public.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin North West, Noel Rock, asked why no affected customers have come forward.

Rock said there are number of other questions, not just where the Irish customers are.

Why did the authorised ticket seller have no representative in Rio? Why did a company with no representative in the host city get the contract for all the tickets in the first instance? There are now many more questions to be answered.

He said he hoped more satisfactory answers will be found when Ross meets with Hickey today.

The ongoing situation is “an embarrassment,” said Rock.

He said if the minister cannot get satisfactory answers, he is calling for the OCI to come before the Public Accounts Committee.

This situation is completely unacceptable and is at risk of overshadowing our very real achievements in these games.

- Comments are closed as a man is due to be charged over the ticket allegations.

Read: Michaella McCollum returns home to Ireland months after release from Peru jail>

Read: Tributes paid to consultant doctor who died in Lough Corrib>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS