The shock arrest of Pat Hickey yesterday morning has all but ended the 71-year-old’s tenure as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, which he has led since 1989.
Last night, Mr Hickey was forced to “temporarily step aside” as he is facing three charges of facilitating ticket touting, formation of a cartel, and ambush or illicit marketing.
The Irish Examiner understands that if convicted, Mr Hickey could face up to seven years in jail.
But sources close to the OCI said last night that they thought it would be “very difficult” for Mr Hickey to return to his post.
Senior government sources last night indicated that a full judicial inquiry into the scandal was now likely.
However they said that the scope and nature of it would be determined by events in Rio and what charges if any are brought against Mr Hickey.
The OCI said last night that vice president William O’Brien will assume the duties of president in Mr Hickey’s absence.
Police in Rio said warrants have also been issued for the arrest of three directors of the OCI’s ticket agent Pro10 — Michael Glynn, Ken Murray, and Eamon Collins.
Judge Mariana Tavares Shu, from a special Olympic court, confirmed the detention orders for Irish nationals Patrick Joseph Hickey, Ken Murray, Eamonn Anthony Stephen Collins and British national Michael Glynn in a statement.
The order is to prevent any of those in Brazil from leaving, as happened with other individuals during a touting investigation during the 2014 World Cup.
She said: “Preventive detention ensures the smooth running of the criminal process and the application of criminal law. All involved are foreigners and do not have permanent residence in this country, so it seems likely that, if they remained at liberty, they might avoid justice. I cite the example of James Sinton… of the Marcus Evans Group at the time of the World Cup 2014, who, once set free, escaped to his country of origin.”
At a press conference yesterday afternoon, police said when they arrived at his hotel room Mr Hickey’s wife told them he had left the country.
Officers found Sylviane Hickey alone in the room but many of her husband’s possessions still in the room, police reported.
Dramatic footage of Mr Hickey’s arrest emerged which showed he was naked when he answered the door to officers.
At the time of his arrest, Mr Hickey complained of feeling unwell and cited an existing heart condition. He was then seen and examined by a doctor.
It was decided that as a precaution, given his age and his previous condition, that he be removed to a nearby hospital in Barra.
At the press conference, Mr Hickey’s passport, Olympic credentials, and air ticket were presented to the media by the police.
Transport Minister Shane Ross, who has decided to leave Rio on foot of the Hickey arrest, said he was “shell shocked” at the news.
In a statement, the OCI confirmed Mr Hickey’s decision to vacate his position.
“In light of this morning’s developments and his ill health, Mr Hickey has taken the decision to step aside temporarily as president of the OCI and all other Olympic functions (IOC member in Ireland, EOC president, ANOC vice president) until this matter is fully resolved. Mr Hickey will of course continue to co-operate and assist with all ongoing enquiries,” the statement said.
Police told reporters that evidence of emails and messages on Mr Hickey’s phone are being investigated.
They say they have found evidence of communication between Mr Hickey and Marcus Evans on Mr Hickey’s phone; THG Group is owned by the Marcus Evans Group.
Among the items released was a copy of the legal advice used by Mr Hickey in his meeting on Sunday with Mr Ross.
According to Rio police, Mr Hickey was told by a senior legal adviser to put Mr Ross “in his place” on the eve of the crunch meeting.
PRO10 Sports Management said it has always acted properly and fully within the guidelines.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved