IOC exec Hickey arrested in Olympic ticket scalping scandal

International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board member Patrick Hickey has been arrested in Rio de Janeiro as part of an investigation into alleged illegal Olympic ticket sales, Brazilian police confirmed Wednesday.

Hickey, president of Ireland's Olympic Council (OCI), is accused of illegally passing on Olympics tickets to scalpers who subsequently sold them at exorbitant prices.

According to Brazilian media reports, Hickey tried to escape when police arrived to arrest him in his hotel room in the Barra district of Rio early Wednesday morning.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams confirmed the 71-year-old Hickey was subsequently taken to hospital.

The case involves 1,000 tickets earmarked for Ireland's Olympic Council, which has already launched its own investigation, Adams said.

Hickey has also been on the IOC executive board since 2012. He leads the group of European Olympic Committees.

"We are still trying to establish the facts," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters. "Needless to say, we will be fully cooperating with any police investigation should there be one."

The OCI initially said it was "aware of the media stories regarding Pat Hickey and we are seeking total clarity on the situation before we comment further."

Two people were arrested earlier in August amid allegations that Olympic tickets earmarked for Ireland's Olympic Council were sold on the black market in Rio de Janeiro.

One of those individuals was sports hospitality company THG Sports director Kevin Mallon, an Irishman who was alleged to have resold Rio Olympics tickets illegally at inflated prices of up to 6,000 pounds (7,800 dollars).

THG is not an authorized ticket reseller for the Rio Games, local organizing committee spokesman Mario Andrade said.

"They are definitely not resellers for the NOC [National Olympic Committee] of Ireland, and I don't believe they are for any other NOC," he said.

Hickey's arrest followed Mallon's from the day of the opening ceremony. When he was arrested on August 5, Mallon was in possession of more than 800 top-class tickets for the Games.

Four further THG directors are also wanted in connection to the probe including Marcus Evans, owner of the Marcus Evans Group which is the parent company to THG.

Asked whether the system of distributing tickets through national Olympic committees and their authorized resellers breeds scalping, Adams said: "It's very much an issue we're always aware of. We can always improve the systems that we have."

Andrade said the Games' organizers have been cooperating with police to help them track scalped tickets.

"Police has been able to control illegal sales," he said, pointing out that 12,000 tickets had been "recycled" after a police operation against scalpers outside the Olympic Park.

Last update: Wed, 17/08/2016 - 18:55

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