Olympic Committee Member Arrested for Scalping Rio Tickets

Updated on
  • Ireland’s Patrick Hickey arrested by police in Rio de Janeiro
  • Police issue arrest warrant for millionaire British executive

Patrick Hickey, the head of Ireland’s national Olympic body and a high-ranking member of the International Olympic Committee, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday for allegedly scalping tickets to the 2016 games.

Hickey, 71, was arrested following a wider investigation into illegal tickets sales, which have resulted in the seizure of more than 1,000 tickets. Police also issued arrest warrants for other people, including Marcus Evans, the millionaire owner of a U.K.-based corporate hospitality company.

Patrick Hickey

Photographer: Larry French/Getty Images for ANOC

Ireland’s Olympic committee said Hickey was temporarily stepping down from all his roles in sport. Evans’s company THG Sports didn’t reply to requests for comment. The IOC said it was still “in the process of establishing the facts.” Police also arrested two alleged scalpers connected to THG on Aug. 5. They have been coordinating with Interpol on additional arrest warrants, police said in a statement.

Hickey was arrested in the room of a hotel reserved for the IOC, close to the main Olympic Park. Footage shows him running to a bathroom before putting on a robe and being taken by police. He was frightened and has been taken for medical exams related to a preexisting heart condition, senior police officer Ronaldo Oliveira told reporters. His passport and some laptops found in his room were seized.

Hickey also held the presidency of the European Olympic Committees and vice presidency of the Association of National Olympic Committees. "Mr Hickey will of course continue to cooperate and assist with all ongoing enquiries," the Olympic Council of Ireland said in a statement.

$8,000 Tickets

The allegations of scalping come even though Olympic organizers have faced persistent questions about empty seats at several venues throughout the games. Police said the tickets were for the most expensive parts of the arenas in high-profile events such as the opening and closing ceremonies.

Kevin James Mallon, 36, an executive of THG Sports, and a translator working for him were arrested on Aug. 5, and police alleged tickets were being sold to that day’s opening ceremony for $8,000 each. “With these tickets, this company could expect profit of up to 10 million reais,” Ricardo Barbosa, one of the police officers leading the inquiry, told a press conference Monday.

The arrest document.

Photographer: Yasmine Batista/Bloomberg

Last week, the Olympic Council of Ireland said it would launch an inquiry after some of the tickets seized were linked to it. The organization wrote on its website there was “absolutely no suggestion of misconduct or impropriety” by any of its staffers.

The arrest of Hickey bears similarities to the high-profile operation that led to charges filed against a senior member of soccer governing body FIFA’s hospitality partner for allegedly scalping during the 2014 World Cup. A THG Sports staffer was also arrested then. Ticket scalping is illegal in Brazil, and carries a prison term.