Olympic ticket scandal: OCI 'refused' to add independent members to inquiry

Minister Shane Ross insists decision to refuse external members has no legal basis

Rio 2016, Olympics 2016, Ireland,

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) refused his request to add independent members to its inquiry into alleged ticket touting.

The OCI is in the process of investigating how Rio 2016 tickets earmarked for the organisation allegedly came into the possession of an Irishman arrested in Brazil.

Kevin James Mallon, an employee of THG Sports, which was the OCI’s authorised ticket reseller for London 2012 and the 2014 Winter Games, was arrested in the city on August 5th, along with a translator.

The firm no longer works with the OCI, which denies any knowledge of the two people arrested in connection with the controversy.

PRO10, the OCI's official ticket seller (ATR), earlier said Mr Mallon was holding tickets in his possession "to be made available simply for collection" by its customers in Rio.

"These had been made available for sale through the authorised ATR process and were sold to legitimate customers of PRO10 at face value plus the allowed ATR reseller fee," it said. 

Mr Ross met last night with two representatives from the OCI, including its president, Pat Hickey.

He said the OCI declined to change its panel or answer any questions about the controversy due to legal issues.

'No legal basis'

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Ross said he suggested that it would be "beneficial for both the OCI and the minister if the OCI would add independent members" to its inquiry.

"The minister emphasised the necessity of independence and rigour in such investigations, in terms of establishing their credibility.

"The OCI refused the minister’s request, citing legal advice," it said. 

Mr Ross said the OCI also decided not to answer questions about the tickets scandal "on the grounds that it might prejudice the case before the Brazilian courts".  

The OCI additionally refused to provide information to any third party, including any independent inquiry he might establish, until such time as the case concludes, according to the minister. 

Mr Ross said he did not accept that there was any legal basis for refusing to accept independent members.

He is due to discuss the meeting with Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan later today and raise the matter with Attorney General Máire Whelan.

"A decision will be made on the basis of these consultations," he said.

The OCI has been contacted for comment.