Sports Minister urged to restore OCI funding following termination of THG contracts

The OCI and THG have agreed to terminate their ticketing agreements for the 2018 - 2026 Olympic Games

Sports Minister urged to restore OCI funding following termination of THG contracts

Image: RollingNews

The Sports Minister has been urged to immediately reinstate funding for Olympic Council of Ireland after the sports body agreed to terminate its controversial Olympic Games ticketing contract.

This afternoon, The OCI said it had reached an agreement with The Hospitality Group (THG) to terminate contracts relating to 2018 - 2026 Olympic Games.

The contracts were agreed with former OCI president Pat Hickey - but were never approved by the OCI executive board.

Mr Hickey stepped down from his position after he was arrested at the Rio Olympics as part of an inquiry into alleged ticket touting.

THG was rejected as an official ticket partner by the Rio organising committee and was also refused authorisation for the Olympic Winter Games next year in South Korea.

Mr Hickey is due to stand trial in Brazil in November.

Amicable resolution

In a statement this afternoon, the OCI said: "Both parties agreed that with THG reducing its business activities in Ireland that this would be the most appropriate course of action in the interests of Irish athletes and the wider Irish public."  

"THG has been the OCI’s most significant commercial partner since coming on board in 2010.

"The OCI wishes to acknowledge THG’s willingness to reach an amicable resolution in this matter."

Government funding

Following the announcement, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Robert Troy said the termination of the contracts is "in the interest of all involved in what has been a long debacle since the summer of 2016."

He said the Rio ticketing scandal "caused huge embarrassment for Ireland on the global stage and Irish sport, in particular."

“Emphasis must now be rightfully focused on overcoming the reputational damage that was inflicted upon the organisation," he said.

“Therefore, it is time for Minister Shane Ross to reinstate Government funding to the Olympic Council to ensure that athletes are adequately supported to allow them excel in their given sport and not further penalised for something that was not of their making."

Top priority

In a statement this evening, Minister Ross said: "The termination of this contract is a very welcome development."

"Subject to other matters in the Report being addressed satisfactorily, particularly corporate governance recommendations, we are now close to a position where we can restore normal funding arrangements so that the athletes will be top priority.

"Preparations for Tokyo 2020 must be the focus of attention for the OCI, Sport Ireland, the National Governing Bodies of Sport.”