Europe's top Olympic official arrested in Rio ticketing probe

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:30pm EDT
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By Ossian Shine and Rodrigo Viga

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian police arrested Europe's top Olympic official in a dawn raid of his Rio beachfront hotel on Wednesday, in connection with an investigation into ticket scalping at the Olympics.

The police said they had discovered evidence linking 71-year-old Irishman Pat Hickey to an international scheme to illegally pass Olympic tickets to touts who were reselling them at well above their original price.

Police said they had also issued arrest warrants for three executives of Dublin-based PRO10 Sports Management. They are recommending charges against Hickey and the executives for illegal ticket resale, criminal association and fraudulent marketing. Prosecutors had yet to decide on any charges.

Police allege PRO10 funneled tickets to another company, THG Sports, whose director was arrested this week in Brazil. PRO10 and THG have denied wrongdoing. Hickey has not responded to calls for comment.

Hickey was detained at the hotel Windsor Marapendi, near the Olympic Park. After he complained of chest pain, he was taken to nearby Samaritano hospital so his condition could be assessed.

"The man who was arrested is 71 years old and he was frightened when we arrived at 6 o’clock in the morning. We contacted the hotel doctor who treated the man as cautiously as possible," police chief Ricardo Barbosa said.

"He was a bit afraid and was taken to hospital. He had pre-existing heart problems."

A second police commissioner, Aloysio Falcao, said Hickey's wife had opened the hotel room's door to police: "She said that her husband had already left the hotel but we took a look around (the room) and we found his credentials."   Continued...

Patrick Hickey poses on the blue carpet prior to the 2015 ANOC Awards in Washington in this October 29, 2015 file photo. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/File photo