Sports Minister to meet with OCI president in Rio over ticket controversy

Shane Ross will arrive in Brazil later today

Sports Minister to meet with OCI president in Rio over ticket controversy

Shane Ross. Image:

The Sports Minister says he will be seeking answers from the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) over the tickets controversy when they meet in Rio later.

Independent Alliance Minister Shane Ross arrives in Brazil tonight to attend the games.

His first appointment, however, is expected to be a meeting with OCI President Pat Hickey.

The meeting follows the arrest of an Irish man on suspicion of re-selling part of the OCI's ticket allocation.

Kevin James Mallon, who works for THG Sports, was detained by the Civil Police in Rio de Janeiro last week, amid investigations into what authorities believe could be an international touting ring.

There has been tension between the OCI and the minister over the issue.

Minister Ross has indicated he wants an independent investigation into the sale of some of Ireland's Olympic ticket allocation.

Minister Ross has said there is a "question mark" over the OCI's internal inquiry into the matter.

In a statement released on Friday, Pro10 Sports Management - the Irish authorised ticket reseller (ATR) for Rio 16 - said: "The tickets Mr Kevin Mallon, an employee of THG group, had in his possession were held on our behalf to be made available simply for collection by Irish and other European customers of Pro 10 in Rio.

"We have suffered significant commercial loss as a result of the tickets being seized [...] and caused Irish and European customers to be unable to buy tickets during games time through the authorised process," the statement adds.

Pro10 says it has "always acted properly and fully in line with the ATR guidelines" and that it will cooperate "fully and properly" with Brazilian authorities during their investigations.

The OCI says it "strictly adheres to the IOC regulations around ticket allocation, sale and re-sale" and is "treating this matter with the utmost seriousness".

The Irish Times Consumer Affairs Correspondent Conor Pope says many questions remain unanswered.

"There appears to be a huge lack of transparency into how this particular contract was awarded," he explained.