Europe

Rio 2016: Arrests ordered over 'illegal ticket sales'

Spectator holding tickets for Rio 2016 Image copyright PA
Image caption The Irish sports minister has said an internal inquiry set up by the Olympic Council of Ireland into the Rio 2016 ticket sales controversy lacks credibility

A Brazilian judge has ordered the arrest of four executives from a sports hospitality company alleged to have resold tickets for Rio 2016 illegally.

The men, who work for THG Sports, were named as Marcus Evans and Martin Studd from the UK, Irishman David Patrick Gilmore and Dutchman Maarten Van Os.

None of the four is believed to be in Brazil and police there have said they will pursue the matter with Interpol.

THG said the allegations against it were "entirely without foundation".

Last week Brazilian police detained THG's Dublin-based director Kevin James Mallon, accusing him of involvement in illegal ticket reselling at the Olympics.

Police say the four men named on Monday "had knowledge of, and contributed to a scheme that involved the illegal selling of tickets at prices well above face value, under the camouflage of hospitality packages".

THG said Mr Mallon did not sell or seek to sell tickets but was holding tickets for collection by clients of the Irish authorised ticket reseller (ATR), Pro 10 Management.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Rio's Civil Police Fraud Unit held a press conference on Monday afternoon

"Having tickets on the ground for collection is standard practice for an ATR during games time," it said.

"He was acting as the collection point for the Authorised Ticket Resellers' customers.

"It is our understanding that all of these tickets are sold by the ATR at face value plus the mark ups allowed under the agreements with Rocog [Rio Olympic Games organising committee]."

THG said it would be "vigorously defending all charges that have been brought".

Pro 10 said it had "always acted properly and fully in line with the ATR guidelines". It said it had "suffered significant commercial loss as a result of the tickets being seized" by the Olympic authorities in Rio.

This had left Irish and European customers "unable to buy tickets during games time through the authorised process".

However, the firm said it was continuing "to co-operate fully and promptly with inquiries by the Brazilian authorities".

'Stunned'

Meanwhile, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has been criticised for rejecting a call to add independent investigators to its own inquiry into the ticket sale controversy.

Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross said he was "stunned" that his request for independent investigators had been rejected.

The OCI has said it "strictly adheres" to ticket rules. "There is absolutely no suggestion of misconduct or impropriety by the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) or any of its staff," the organisation said on its website.

Mr Ross said his government would now consider a separate inquiry.

The minister met OCI president Pat Hickey in Rio on Sunday, telling Irish broadcaster RTE that their meeting had been "fairly tense, fairly direct and fairly frank".

He said the OCI had refused to answer any specific questions, citing legal advice.

Mr Hickey said there had been "a great exchange of views" and described it as an "excellent" meeting.


Who's who in Irish Olympic tickets controversy?

  • Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) - The Irish national Olympic committee which is the state-funded body responsible for selecting, training and preparing Irish athletes to take part in the summer and winter Olympics
  • International Olympic Committee (IOC) - The leading organiser of the Olympic games and the highest authority in the Olympic movement
  • THG Sports - A corporate and sports hospitality company based in London.
  • Pro 10 Management - An Irish sports management company based in Lucan, County Dublin, which was appointed by the Olympic Council of Ireland as its Authorised Ticket Re-seller (ATR) in Ireland.
  • Shane Ross - The Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
  • Pat Hickey - President of the Olympic Council of Ireland

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