PB: Pat Hickey, what has been your reaction to the controversies which have overshadowed Ireland’s participation in these games so far?
PH: I presume you’re speaking about the positive case in doping in boxing and I’m presume you’re also speaking about the ticketing issue…on those two issues, we have taken immediate action on each one…in the boxing issue, the athlete is now safely back in Ireland and we respected all the relevant procedures and we did everything possible to make sure it was handled in a professional way which I’m very proud of.
PB Some of the language at home…shocking, disappointing, embarrassed…these are the words being used to describe the situation here in Rio…vis a vis Team Ireland and indeed the Irish situation here…what’s your reaction to that kind of language being used?
PH Well, I can tell you categorically, Philip, that (coughs) the athletes in the Olympic village are totally isolated from that…ok they can follow it, but none of this has carried over whatsoever into the Olympic village…we have a great Chef de Mission out there in Kevin Kilty…everyone is extremely happy, we have reports every day, so that has not impacted in any way on Team Ireland.
PB But for you personally, to see that kind of language being used in connection with, with the OCI and indeed the team?
PH Yes, I’m aware of the language and I follow the news, naturally, but look, we have as I said to you, we’ve taken immediate action in both issues, in the ticketing issue, we immediately assembled a committee to investigate the whole event, and that committee is comprised of the legal counsel to the OCI, the first vice President, William O’Brien, who will be my successor, and the secretary general, Dermot Henehan. Now, we then moved very fast and eh…by the way this is all approved by our Executive Committee because I’m not the lone ranger here, I have to go through the Executive Committee for permission to do things. So what we have done is, we’ve written to the Brazilian authorities in Rio 2016 and we have asked them can they send us all the necessary documentation and any evidence whatsoever that they have. Secondly, we have written to the International Olympic Committee to ask them the very same thing and we have informed the International Olympic Committee, that if we find that an ATR has transgressed any of the contracts that they signed, or treated anything in the wrong way that we urge them to take sanction against those ATRs. Then we have started to investigate our own ticket agent, Pro 10 Management, and we have a whole series of questions to be answered there. So we’re working very diligently on assembling this report. And when we have this report then, we’ll be in a better position to issue, eh share the news with everybody.
PB When did you become aware of the ticketing situation?
PH eh, not until it happened…we learned from the media just like everybody else. We had no advance knowledge whatsoever.
PB Can you explain, because it seems from the outside looking in that it is a rather complex…ticketing arrangement that exists for the selling of Olympic tickets. What should happen in normal circumstances?
PH In normal circumstances, an ATR is appointed and they sell the tickets, and this happens with all Olympic committees in the world, but one has to be careful here until we get all the evidence gathered, there could be legal issues, there could be eh, the person who’s held in prison at the moment could be found not guilty, we don’t know how this is going to turn out. So we are actively collecting all the information at the moment and when we have all the answers together, we’ll be in a much clearer position.
PB How did you feel when you learned that these tickets, or some of these tickets, a lot of these tickets had Olympic Council of Ireland on them?
PH Oh I wasn’t very happy and this is why we are going through the mechanism of how did this happen and did it happen in a legal way or an illegal way against the contract that has been signed….you know I have to assemble all this information before the Council can finally make a decision and know what the facts are.
PB Were you aware from your presumably conversations with Pro 10, did they ever, had they ever had possession of these tickets?
PH What happens with the tickets is, we don’t handle them whatsoever…and Pro 10, the tickets are issued to Pro 10 not by us but by Rio 2016 so we never handle tickets whatsoever… so you’d want to refer that question to Pro 10
PB What have Pro 10 told you so far? Presumably there must be some communications between the OCI and Pro 10?
PH There is, there is communication but we’ve just told them, we’ve sent them a list of questions and we want detailed answers to each question so we can assemble all the facts.
PB Do you have any understanding or knowledge of how the OCI’s former ATR, THG, became involved in this?
PH None whatsoever
PB And the OCI no longer has any association with THG at all?
PH No, the ATR for Ireland, for the Rio 2016 games is Pro 10 Management
PB All the same a couple of days in this…as this story was developing, the OCI took perhaps the unusual step of issuing a statement in which you sought to clarify that there was no association between your son and THG. Why did the OCI do that?
PH Because that was raised again, Philip, if you remember, this is all old history. Before I went to London, it was clear that my son was working as the hospitality manager in the Irish house and in fact I was interviewed on Prime Time so that’s a matter of public record…and several of the media eh, raised it again was he still involved in THG? So we had to clarify that he wasn’t and that he isn’t and hasn’t been since after London and you will see there’s an apology in the Irish Times today to that effect.
PB When did the OCI sever its links with THG?
PH After the Sochi Games
PB There is an Irish businessman who is in jail at the moment in Brazil, em, do you know or have you ever met Kevin Mallon?
PH I have never met Kevin Mallon, I don’t know anything about him and in fact when I heard the reports first like this like I told like everyone else, I thought he was based in the UK and then I subsequently read in the media that he is based in the Dublin office but I have never met him and to my knowledge none of the staff of the OCI have ever met him.
PB And what are the Brazilian authorities asking the OCI for now, you are still cooperating with them, I mean you’re involved, there are several investigations now, there’s the one that’s taking place here in Rio, presumably there’s an IOC one, you’re involved with all of these investigations…
PH Well we instigated the involvement we wrote to Rio 2016 immediately to request, they’re the ones with all the knowledge…to request, can they advise us exactly what happened, advise us of the police reports, whatever knowledge they have and we did the same with the IOC and we’re awaiting a reply from both parties…because we have to gather all the evidence.
PB The IOC have told us…there are sanctions too though…if an Individual international federation is ultimately found to have any sort of connection with touted tickets, that there are sanctions for that organisations as well. Are you confident that, at the end of all this, there will be no further link to OCI?
PH This is why we want to gather all the information…what I can tell you very clearly Philip is that there is no impropriety whatsoever from anyone in the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets and I want to reassure of that 100% …but we’re back to collecting the evidence and the IOC will certainly have a review and the review will depend on all the evidence that we have got and I’m fully expecting that we, the OCI will come out of it with fully clear bill of health.
PB Has the OCI’s reputation, has Ireland’s reputation been tarnished by this affair?
PH Well look, I’m a very proud Irishman, I’ve lead the Irish Olympic Committee for a long time and I represent them internationally and I would of course be very sorry for any embarrassment caused to Ireland in this issue and I intend to rectify it and correct it as fast as I can.
PB We said at the start of this that this has been a difficult few days for yourself, the OCI, and indeed the team…we’ve had some good news today, presumably you would hope that there is further good news ahead for the team?
PH Absolutely, Philip, it’s great that you are asking me a question about the Olympic Games of a sporting nature and yes the news this morning was great with the rowers in the two finals and the great result for the hockey team and the boxer getting through…we just sincerely hope that we can build on this but as I said to you earlier on, the atmosphere here in the village is superb and they’re very happy with everything, the chef de Mission is doing a good job, so we’ve no worries on that end. And we have…all the support is there for them.