One of Ireland's Olympic heroes, Scott Evans, has confirmed to Balls.ie that he and his parents had to go outside of Ireland to source tickets for the Rio Olympic Games as there were none available to them through Pro10, the Olympic Council of Ireland's official ticket retailer.
In recent days, Rio police claimed that they discovered 228 tickets in the room of Kevin Kilty, Ireland's Chef de Mission, that were supposedly meant to be for family members of the Irish Olympic athletes. This came as OCI President Pat Hickey is held in Bangu prison in Rio on accusations of involvement in the illegal 'touting' of tickets allocated to the OCI. Allegedly sharing a cell with Hickey is Kevin Mallon, employee of THG-the OCI's official ticketing agent for the London 2012 Games-who was discovered by police in Rio in possession of 800 tickets, many of which were part of the OCI's official ticket allocation.
In the wake of the revelations, sailor Finn Lynch's mother, Grainne Adams, told Newstalk that she had to go to a Norwegian website in order to get tickets for the Olympics Opening Ceremony because she couldn't get any through Pro10. Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan took to Twitter to complain about family members being refused access to the Olympic Village, while four-time Olympian Olive Loughnane caused a stir with her claim that she only ever received one ticket for family members to watch her event.
And Evans has acknowledged that, when his parents tried to get tickets through Pro10, "they had no luck". In fact, it was Evans himself, who lives in Denmark, who got them tickets after he "checked out some Danish websites and was able to get a couple of tickets through that". A friend of Evans' parents in Rio also helped them source tickets for the Dubliner's events.
While Evans emphasised that finding tickets for his parents had, for him, been a relatively stress-free experience, he agreed that it was "a little bit annoying" that it was "not possible for them to get the tickets through Ireland" and that, having read about the difficulties other athletes and their families faced, it "shouldn't be the way". If he had not had contacts through which to get tickets, it would have been "very difficult", he said.
For his last 16 match against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, Evans says he "was able to buy (tickets) through the (International) Olympic Council" through a service in the Olympic Village.
Nevertheless, the fact that the parents of one of Ireland's Olympic athletes could not manage to access and purchase tickets through the official ticket provider of the Olympic Council of Ireland is sure to raise eyebrows, and it echoes reports of the struggle other athletes' families faced to locate tickets for their loved ones' events.