Oh Pat, Pat, Pat...
OCI chief Pat Hickey was arrested in Rio De Janeiro this morning in connection with a ticket touting scandal that now threatens to engulf Ireland's Olympics. Somehow, Hickey managed to eclipse a drug scandal, a judging scandal and two silver medals in the space of 10 minutes during the early hours of the Brazilian morning.
Hardly a shocker for a prime mover such as himself...
Pat Hickey's modest bio on the OCI website. pic.twitter.com/EV8XfxkQnv
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 17, 2016
Earlier today we had it confirmed to us by a high profile Irish athlete in Rio that, as assumed, the Ireland Olympic team (i.e. the athletes from each sport) travelled in Economy Class on the 11-and-a-half hour flight to Rio De Janeiro.
Economy wouldn't suffice for Pat Hickey, however, who travelled in First Class from London, as is visible in Philip Bromwell's tweet below. The picture was taken when Hickey's Olympic accreditation, passport and flight were presented to the media following his arrest.
First class was only for Pat and the lads,
we were told by the Irish Olympian we spoke with this afternoon.
Out of curiosity, we picked a random day next July and checked the First Class, one-way ticket prices from London Heathrow to Rio De Janeiro International Airport. It cost just under €10,400 - again, this being next summer, when there are no Olympics. Hickey's ticket earlier this summer likely cost considerably more.
To put that into context, the top category of athlete funding (or Podium funding) from The Irish Sports Council is €40,000 per year. This is the category that 20 (9 Olympic and 11 Paralympic) of our so-called 'podium' athletes such as Michael Conlan and Annalise Murphy fall under.
The vast majority of Irish Olympians, however, are granted far less than that. Hickey's First Class ticket to Rio would have cost over half of what many Irish Olympians will be paid this year. As far as we're aware, he did not medal in judo this summer.
But it's not like our athletes might require leg space or anything.
The contrast didn't end with flights, mind. Compare Hickey's room in the Windsor Marapendi hotel, from which we saw footage of him being arrested today...
...to Paddy Barnes' and Michael Conlan's Irish College-esque set-up, complete with mosquito nets...
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) July 30, 2016
Six of one, eh?
Furthermore, Hickey and his fellow IOC heavies are each given $900 expenses per diem - this to spend on 'entertainment' as well as food. It should be pointed out that this sum is paid by the IOC and not the OCI. Conversely, scores of Olympics volunteers have walked away from the Games due to poor working conditions and lack of food.
Olympic volunteers quitting because of long hours, lack of food, as IOC members get $900 a day per diem. https://t.co/kYTEEvefnj
— Tony Smyth (@LateNightCam) August 17, 2016
You can understand how the likes of Paddy Barnes wouldn't be too sympathetic towards the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland.
Hopefully this ticket scandal doesn't include our flight tickets home!
— Paddy Barnes OLY (@paddyb_ireland) August 17, 2016