Olympics

Sports Minister Refuses To Say He Has Confidence In OCI President Pat Hickey

Sports Minister Refuses To Say He Has Confidence In OCI President Pat Hickey

Current Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, has refused to give Olympic Council of Ireland President Pat Hickey his support in the wake of a ticket touting scandal that threatens to engulf Hickey and the OCI.

Speaking on RTE's 'Morning Ireland' programme, when asked directly whether or not Hickey was suitable for his role, Ross replied, "I think it would be wrong at this stage to say whether Pat Hickey is suitable or not suitable" and that he intended to "carry out a robust inquiry as to what has happened."

Ross was speaking a few days after two individuals were arrested for illegally selling tickets for the Rio Olympics that were originally allocated to the OCI. Since the revelations, Hickey has been accused of maintaining a "vacuum of information" by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee; Rock also accused the OCI of "kicking things to touch".

Hickey himself replied with a statement that claimed that the OCI "don't handle (the tickets) whatsoever. The tickets are issued to Pro10 (the OCI's ticket agent for the Games) not by us but by Rio 2016...we never handle tickets whatsoever".

Hickey said that the OCI had written to the IOC, the Brazilian Olympics authorities and Pro10, seeking answers as to what had transpired.

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And, while Ross had initially said that he wanted to "forget" about the scandal for now, and "proceed with the Olympians in Rio", he has evidently changed his mind as he is heading over to Rio on Sunday to investigate the issue.

Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Communications, Environment and Natural Resources, Timmy Dooley, accused Hickey's statement of raising "more questions than it provides answers" and seeking "to remove the OCI from any culpability".

It remains to be seen what will result from the investigations, as Team Ireland's Olympics start to pick up pace with successful performances from the rowers, hockey team, sailors and boxers, and the athletes sharpening their spikes ahead of the track and field commencing on Friday.

 

Conall Cahill

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