Bosses urge Brazil to send Hickey home

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Olympic bosses made an im­pas­sioned plea to Brazil­ian au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day to al­low Ir­ish Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Pa­trick Hickey to re­turn home while await­ing trial over an al­leged tick­et­ing scam. Hickey, who is also the head of the Euro­pean Olympic Com­mit­tee, was ar­rested by Brazil­ian police dur­ing the Rio Olympics in Au­gust as part of a raid into an il­le­gal ticket sales scheme.

He de­nies any wrong­do­ing but has been for­mally charged, along with nine oth­ers, with ticket-tout­ing, am­bush mar­ket­ing, theft, tax eva­sion, money-laun­der­ing and crim­i­nal as­so­ci­a­tion. He has stepped down from both posts while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

The trial date has still not been set but could take up to two years to be heard, according to his lawyers.

The 71-year-old Hickey re­mains un­der house ar­rest in Brazil but has had his pass­port con­fis­cated and has been banned from leav­ing the coun­try. His lawyers and Olympic of­fi­cials have asked that he be al­lowed to re­turn home to Ire­land un­til the case is heard.

Hickey was a no­tice­able ab­sen­tee from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees (ANOC) gen­eral assem­bly in Doha yes­ter­day but sev­eral of­fi­cials men­tioned his case.

“Pa­trick Hickey is still de­tained in Brazil and not al­lowed to leave the coun­try,” said Janez Ko­ci­jan­cic, who is cur­rently serv­ing as act­ing pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Olympic Com­mit­tee.

“He was charged with crim­i­nal of­fences and we do not think he com­mit­ted them.

“He is 71 and has heart prob­lems. We hope he will be al­lowed home to pre­pare to prove his in­no­cence.

“We do not ask for mercy but for a hu­man ap­proach.” The ANOC Pres­i­dent, Sheikh Ah­mad Al-Fa­had Al-Ahmed AlSabah, re­ferred to Hickey as our “dear VP” while the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach, a lawyer him­self, also touched on the sub­ject of Hickey’s case in his key­note address, but chose his words care­fully. “We have to put the sys­tem into place for prevention, and, if that fails, for sanc­tion­ing and ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures. We should never claim the sports world is im­mune.

“Pa­trick Hickey is still in Brazil con­cern­ing the sale of tick­ets,” Bach said. “We have to say, clearly, that as long as there is no re­sult, our col­league en­joys the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence.”

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