OCI welcomes restoration of funding after Hickey scandal
The Olympic Council of Ireland has welcomed the restoration of €300,000 ($353,261) in government funding after a bruising ticket fraud scandal, during which its funding had been suspended.
The payment had been withheld pending the outcome of an inquiry into the scandal surrounding last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which led to the resignation of former OCI president Patrick Hickey.
However, Shane Ross, Ireland’s sports minister, said yesterday that the board of Sport Ireland, which administers the funding, was satisfied that the OCI is spending funds on athlete-related activities.
Sarah Keane, who succeeded Hickey as the OCI’s president, welcomed the move, saying: “The decision to restore State funding is recognition of the hard work that has taken place this year at the OCI to transform its governance arrangements and the efforts made to tackle some of the other legacy issues arising from the Rio Games.
“The Board and staff of the OCI will continue to pursue our reform agenda as we face into a busy year for Olympic athletes in 2018. With the Winter Games in PyeongChang and the World Youth Games in Argentina next year we have a very busy programme of work ahead of us to support our athletes and member federations.”
In August, the OCI publicly accepted the findings of an independent report by Judge Carroll Moran into the scandal, saying that it would “seek to address the concerns raised by Judge Moran with regard to the absence of a full reconciliation of tickets and ticket revenue.”
The OCI also said it would not accept the return of Hickey to its board. In September, Hickey resigned from the executive board of the International Olympic Committee. He continues to protest his innocence, and retains his IOC membership.
In October the OCI and ticket agency THG terminated a controversial deal that had been due to run from 2018 to 2026.
THG, which is controlled by British businessman Marcus Evans, was rejected by the Rio 2016 organising committee as an authorised reseller of tickets, but an Irish probe conducted by Moran found that Pro10, the company that was appointed, was not fit for purpose and was a front for THG.
Hickey declined to co-operate with the Moran inquiry on the grounds it could prejudice his right to a fair trial in a criminal investigation in Brazil, but has previously claimed the final report contained “significant inaccuracies.”