Update 2pm: Peter Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), is to "temporarily step aside" from all Olympic matters following his early morning arrest in Rio de Janeiro over ticket controversy.
He is charged with supplying some 830 OCI tickets for the purpose of ticket touting to a British company who would illegally sell the tickets and the 71-year-old could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of the three charges of ticket touting, false advertising, and diverting tickets to illegal purposes. The tickets are believed to have held a value of up to €10 million.
The British company, THG, were the preferred ticket suppliers of the OCI until 2012 but following trouble in Brazil in 2014 during the World Cup, were banned from selling tickets for this year's Olympics.
THG director Kevin Mallon, arrested on August 5, claims they were just holding the tickets for the preferred OCI vendor.
Brazilian police have released a number of emails and text messages from Hickey, one of which is reported to show a senior member of OCI's legal counsel telling Hickey that Shane Ross, the Irish Minister for Sport, should be "put back in his box."
The former OCI President is reported to still be in hospital after claiming he felt unwell after his arrest. It is believed he may be placed under house arrest due to his age and health situation.
#pathickey isn't just head of an Olympic delegation. He's one of the top dogs in IOC. This is FIFAesque to have a big wig arrested.— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) August 17, 2016
Elsewhere in Rio, it has been announced that several referees and judges will not take part in the remaining fights in the Olympic boxing competitions as their judgments were not believed to be up to par. The news comes too late for Irish boxer Michael Conlan who lost out in controversial circumstances yesterday in a shock decision from the judges.
9am: The President of Olympic Council of Ireland and head of the European Olympic Committees, Patrick Hickey, has been taken to hospital following his arrest in Rio de Janeiro, over illegal ticket sales.
He was arrested in his hotel, in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, on Wednesday, at 7am local time. International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told The AP that Hickey is now in hospital, having complained of feeling unwell following his arrest.
Hickey is accused of plotting, with at least six others, to illegally sell tickets for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the Rio police have said. Civil police in Rio have now issued arrest warrants for three directors of Pro 10 - Michael Glynn, Ken Murray and Eamon Collins. Pro 10 is the Irish-based Authorized Ticket Re-seller appointed by the OCI.
At a press conference the Rio police said that when they went to Hickey’s hotel room he was not present. His wife told them he had left Rio to return to Ireland. The police then located Hickey in another room at the hotel.
Hickey previously denied any wrongdoing with relation to the ticket sales.
Pat Hickey's passport, Olympic credentials and air ticket presented to media at Rio press conference pic.twitter.com/hoV4HAwNSa— Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) August 17, 2016
Hickey gave an interview to RTE radio on Friday in which he denied any connection to THG, denied knowing Mallon and insisted that none of the tickets in question passed through the OCI office.
His arrest follows the Brazilian police’s investigation into events which led to almost 800 Irish tickets for the Olympic games ending up in the hands of alleged touts, to be sold illegally. The OCI have previously said they would not permit an independent person to be added to its inquiry team. They also said they would not cooperate with a potential Irish Government probe, as it might prejudice the ongoing case of a Dublin businessman Kevin Mallon, who is in prison in Rio de Janeiro over ticket touting. Mallon was arrested along with interpreter Barbara Carnieri, over the same matter.
Mark Adams, IOC: Pat Hickey is 'entitled for the world and everyone to believe he is innocent until proven guilty'https://t.co/GGlXW0tNae— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 17, 2016
Mallon is a Director of THG Sports, a firm at the center of the controversy. He was arrested on August 5, allegedly in possession of tickets which were intended for the black market.
Last Friday Hickey gave an interview with Ireland’s state broadcaster RTE denying any connection to THG, denied knowing Mallon and insisted that none of the tickets in question had passed through the OCI office.
Pro 10 Sports Management, based in Dublin, was appointed by the OCI as its Authorized Ticket Re-seller (ATR) in Ireland. According to Pro 10 the tickets Mallon had in his possession were held on their behalf for collection by customers who had purchased them at face value, plus a normal ATR fee, through the approved re-sale process.
In a statement, released on their site, Pro 10 complained that they had suffered a “significant commercial loss” as a result of the seizure of Mallon’s tickets.
F0llowing the arrest of Mallon on August 5 the OCI launched an investigation into the allegations. On Monday they said Hickey had met with Sports Minister Shane Ross to discuss the ticket issue. The OCI reiterated it was “not investigating itself” but rather probing “the chain of events” from the appointment of Pro 10 to Mallon’s arrest.
In a statement they said “There remains no suggestion of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of the OCI or any of its staff.”
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told the Independent that the Irish Government is aware of the arrest.
He said “The only official information I have at the moment is that out ambassador in Brazil has confirmed to us that an Irish person has been arrested.
"That person was arrested this morning. I do not currently have information about who that person was or the circumstances of their arrest.
When asked if he has confidence in Hickey’s leadership of the OCI he said that was a matter for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. He said "Ministers Ross and O'Donovan are currently making an assessment of the situation and I'll wait to hear back from them regarding their views on how this matter is being dealt with," he said.
Minister for Sports Shane Ross tweeted:
Shell shock here in Rio— Shane Ross (@Shane_RossTD) August 17, 2016