The Irish Olympic delegation has been thrown into turmoil after the arrest of its most senior delegate in Rio.
Pat Hickey was taken into custody Wednesday by Brazilian authorities investigating an illegal ticket selling operation.
Hickey, who took ill after his arrest and is currently being cared for in hospital, has temporarily stood down from his position as head of President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, this according to a statement from the OCI.
“In light of this morning’s developments and his ill health, Mr. Hickey has taken the decision to step aside temporarily as President of the OCI and all other Olympic functions (IOC member in Ireland, EOC President, ANOC Vice President) until this matter is fully resolved.
Mr. Hickey will of course continue to cooperate and assist with all ongoing enquiries.”
Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross announced that he was cutting his trip to the Rio Olympics to try and deal with the fall-out.
“Given the seriousness of this matter, and in the interests of taking swift and decisive action, I will be returning to Dublin as quickly as possible,” Ross said.
“I will immediately consult with my officials, with Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, and with the Attorney General with a view to considering the options open to the government and decide the best course of action.”
Ross says the last contact he had with Pat Hickey was at Annalise Murphy's sailing final on Wednesday.— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) August 18, 2016
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
Hickey is the second Irishman to have been arrested in the ticket touting probe with Dublin man Kevin Mallon already behind bars.
Through his solicitor he has denied any wrongdoing. The Irish government has confirmed it is providing consular assistance.
Fianna Fáil Vice President, Timmy Dooley TD, has called for an independent inquiry into matter.
“The arrest of the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland is a seriously worrying development. It points to the possibility of major impropriety regarding the distribution of Olympic tickets that were allocated to Ireland,” said Dooley.
“The OCI have until now insisted that no independent person be involved in its investigation into this scandal. This position is simply no longer tenable.
“The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross must now move to launch an overarching independent investigation.
“It is important to acknowledge that OCI is in receipt of state funding. The public deserves answers as to how the OCI operates, and how tickets allocated to Ireland were handled. The Governance of OCI must be part of this independent investigation to ensure that public trust in the organization can be restored.”
Hickey, 71, is one of the most powerful men in world sport holding a number of senior Olympic positions. He has been president of the OCI since 1989.
Confirmed: Irish Athletes Flew Economy As Pat Hickey Lived It Up In First Class https://t.co/e23AeCp7d0— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 17, 2016
Mark Adams (IOC) - "in terms of Pat Hickey, I see the OCI has issued a statement. I imagine he's aware of that." pic.twitter.com/Z2G69AxrOP— Philip Bromwell (@philipbromwell) August 9, 2016