Brazil Arrests Top Olympic Official for Tickets Racketeering Valued over $3 Million


Police in Brazil, where the 2016 Olympic Games are ongoing, have arrested a top official of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for illegal sale of tickets valued over a whopping $3 million.

Patrick Hickey was arrested by the Rio police on August 17, 2016 at his hotel, following revelations of his involvement in spearheading the illegal sale of tickets for the games on the black market.

Until his arrest, Hickey was the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), and also the president of the European Olympic Committee (EOC). Again, Hickey has been an executive board member of the IOC since 2012.

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OCI has since issued a statement that Hickey has stepped down from his position as the country’s Olympic chief. He has been replaced with William O’Brien. The EOC has also said Hickey will be replaced by his deputy, Janez Kocijancic as he faces charges in Rio. The IOC, on the other hand said it is conducting its own internal investigations on the issue.

According to the account of the story narrated by Brazilian media, at the beginning of the games, police had received complaints from concerned Brazilian citizens that some top officials of the IOC are conniving with unscrupulous locals, organizing sales of tickets on the black market.

The former Brazilian famous footballer now-turned politician, Romário de Souza Faria, started the allegation of ticket racketeering before the games. Reports suggest Romário specifically mentioned Hickey as the IOC official planning to sell the illegal tickets.

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With this lead intelligence, Brazilian police closely monitored Hickey since his arrival in the country for the games. Investigators said they uncovered a group of people they described as “Cartel,” who Hickey had formed, to sell tickets he supplied to them. The police claimed specifically that Hickey tasked the people he recruited to resell the tickets at a higher price than their face value. They said the scheme could have had profits of 10 million Brazilian Reals ($3.1m).

According to The Rio Times, these tickets Hickey gave to his cartel, were tickets given to the OCI by the IOC.

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Police reportedly pursued Hickey’s arrest at  his hotel in the Barra district of Rio, after establishing these facts. However, Hickey was informed that the police were looking for him, going into hiding in his son’s room in the same hotel. It is believed Hickey had sent his son to the games to help in the sale of the illegal tickets.

However, eventually police arrested him. After Hickey was arrested, he reportedly fell ill and was sent to hospital for medical care, before relocating to the police station for questioning.

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Apart from Hickey, police officials have also recommended the arrest and charging of three executives from Ireland, also guilty of reselling tickets for the games. These executives are wanted for illegal resale of tickets, criminal association and fraudulent marketing.

Aljazeera reports of two people arrested in Rio de Janeiro in August, following allegations of Olympic tickets sold on the black market, that were earmarked for the OCI, in the city ahead of the games.

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One of the three arrested, Kevin Mallon, an Irishman is said to be the director of a top sports hospitality company, THG Sports. He was alleged to have resold some of the tickets illegally at inflated prices, upwards to $7,800. Police said they recovered from him, more than 800 top-class tickets for the Games.

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Before the commencement of the games in Rio, the city’s police were placed on high alert over possible protests against the games. Brazil’s serious economic challenges have its majority of its population wallowing in poverty. Despite the challenges, country officials have ignored these problems, spending millions of dollars on building infrastructure to host the games. This has infuriated many concerned citizens of the country.

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