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Olympic Council of Ireland, THG scrap contract after Rio 2016 scandal

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has today (Tuesday) announced the termination of its commercial partnership with ticketing agent THG in the wake of the scandal surrounding the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

Following a mediation carried out by former Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice Finnegan, THG and the OCI said they have reached an agreement to terminate the contracts agreed between the parties in January 2016 relating to the Olympic Games cycle spanning 2018 to 2026.

In August, the OCI confirmed that THG had been refused authorisation for next year’s winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in the wake of the high-profile scandal at Rio 2016. 

Former OCI president Pat Hickey last month resigned from his position on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) amid the continued fallout from his involvement in the scandal.

The 72-year-old is set to stand trial from November 29 alongside nine other executives after a Rio court in September 2016 accepted prosecutors’ charges in the case surrounding an alleged illegal ticket ring run during the Brazilian city’s staging of the Games.

Kevin Mallon, a director of international sports hospitality company THG Sports, is also among the defendants, along with Martin Burke, the OCI’s former sports director, four other THG officials and three from Dublin-based Pro10 Sports Management, Ireland’s official Olympic Games ticket reseller.

Police have claimed Hickey conspired with businessmen to transfer Olympic Games tickets illegally from Pro10 to THG Sports, which was a non-authorised vendor and allegedly sold them for very high fees. Police investigators said the scheme was planned to produce $3m (€2.5m).

A statement issued by the OCI today read: “OCI accepts that these contracts were enforceable as between the parties and that THG fully intended performing its contractual obligations.

“Both parties agreed that with THG reducing its business activities in Ireland that this would be the most appropriate course of action in the interests of Irish athletes and the wider Irish public.

“THG has been the OCI’s most significant commercial partner since coming on board in 2010. The OCI wishes to acknowledge THG’s willingness to reach an amicable resolution in this matter.”

Hickey, a former European Olympic Committees president, has denied all wrongdoing. Authorities are said to have uncovered evidence suggesting the ring was in operation for around eight years and had plans for other Olympic events, included the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo.