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Rio police target senior Olympic official in ticketing probe

European Olympic Committees (EOC) president Patrick Hickey, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board, was today (Wednesday) arrested by Brazilian police in Rio de Janeiro as part of an investigation into alleged fraudulent ticket sales at the ongoing summer Olympic Games.

The 71-year-old, who is also president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and a senior vice-president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), was taken to hospital after police arrived at his hotel to arrest him.

The Associated Press news agency, citing Rio police, said Hickey is accused of plotting with at least six others to illegally sell tickets for Rio 2016. “Continuing our investigation, civil police discovered the involvement of Patrick in the international scheme of ticket scalping,” the Rio police fraud unit said.

The latest development comes after sports hospitality company THG Sports on Monday hit out after a Brazilian judge ordered the arrest of four of its executives as part of the probe. THG last week denied allegations of fraudulent marketing of tickets after one of its directors and an interpreter working for the Games were detained by Brazilian police.

On August 8, Brazilian police detained Kevin Mallon, a director of THG, and translator Barbara Carnieri, while also seizing more than 1,000 tickets. Mallon faces charges of false marketing, associating with criminals and touting, while Carnieri was detained on suspicion of false marketing.

The tickets in question had been destined for the OCI, which has said it is investigating the matter. Police have said the tickets were being marketed at very high prices, adding that THG could have made around R$10m (€2.77m/$3.05m) from buying tickets and reselling them at a higher price.

Brazilian police did not name the four executives that the arrest warrants have been issued for but said they were directly involved in a scheme to overcharge for tickets. A spokesman for the police said that the four men could not be detained because they were not in Brazil. The AP said one of the executives wanted is Marcus Evans, who owns Marcus Evans Group, the parent company for THG Sports.

THG on Monday rejected the accusations saying that the tickets seized by police were being held legally on behalf of authorised Irish reseller Pro 10, which also denied any wrongdoing.