Rio police want IOC head to explain Ireland’s games tickets

Investigator said they found a July 2015 text from Hickey to Bach requesting more tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies.

By: AP | Rio De Janeiro | Published:September 9, 2016 9:42 am
Rio 2016 tickets, Rio tickets case, Rio 2016 Olympics, Rio Olympics 2016, Rio IOC, Thomas Bach, Patrick Hickey, Sports Patrick Hickey is declining to answer police questions related to alleged ticket scalping during last month’s Olympic Games. Hickey must remain in Brazil until the probe is concluded. (Source: AP)

Rio de Janeiro police investigating a ticket-scalping case want the IOC president to explain why Ireland’s allocation of Summer Games tickets went up.

The Olympic Council of Ireland received 296 more tickets after exchanges between Thomas Bach, head of the International Olympic Committee, and Patrick Hickey, a high-ranking IOC member and head of the OCI, police said on Thursday.

Hickey, 71, is facing charges in Brazil for ticket scalping, conspiracy, and ambush marketing in a case that broke during the Olympics.

Investigator Aloysio Falcao said they found a July 2015 text from Hickey to Bach requesting more tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as for the football, basketball and 100-meter finals. The Associated Press obtained the log of those text messages, in which Hickey lays out his “wish list.”

Falcao said police retrieved information from spreadsheets by OCI sports director Martin Burke, who was named on Thursday as a suspect, showing how the allocation of tickets had gone up last year. There was no record of a text sent in response to Hickey’s request.

“What we know for a fact is that the allocation went up after that text,” Falcao said. “We don’t know what Bach’s response was, so that’s why we want to hear from him.”

The IOC did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

Bach canceled his trip to the opening of the Paralympics in Rio on Wednesday. Police said he would have been summoned to speak as a witness. The IOC said he would be in Germany instead for the official state mourning ceremony for former West German President Walter Scheel, who died last month at the age of 97. It’s unclear if Bach will go to Brazil for any of the Paralympics, which last until Sept. 18.

The IOC promised to cooperate on Wednesday, but the officials said no one with the organization has sought authorities to clarify.

Hickey is among 10 people charged by Brazilian prosecutors with ticket scalping. He was arrested on Aug. 17 in a dawn raid on his Rio hotel room. After a two-day stay in a local hospital to undergo tests, he was held in a high-security prison complex.

Hickey was freed last week when a judge ruled that he wasn’t a risk to the public or the investigation. His passport was confiscated, and he must remain in Brazil until the case is concluded.

Police have said that Hickey plotted with businessmen to transfer tickets illegally from a sports company called Pro 10 to hospitality provider THG Sports, which was a non-authorized vendor and allegedly sold them for very high fees. Police investigators said the scheme was planned to bring in $3 million.

The head of THG Sports, Kevin James Mallon, was arrested on Aug. 5 in the case, but was set free, like Hickey. He faces the same charges and must remain in Brazil.