Rio tickets fiasco is still a head scratcher

So what’s the story behind the Rio tickets scandal which has seen an Irishman in jail for a week?

A man, Kevin Mallon, who works for one company, THG, voluntarily decided to act as a ticket agent for a rival company, Pro10 Sports, in Rio, to help them distribute almost 800 tickets. He ends up getting arrested amid allegations of ticket touting.

Question one: Why would anyone working for one company go out of his way to help a rival, especially when he was not getting paid for his considerable trouble?

Now, the Olympic Council of Ireland had told THG that they were to have no role in distributing tickets, yet their man was arrested last week and has been in jail ever since.

The OCI has insisted so far that no wrong doing has gone on from its point of view. In a statement yesterday, the OCI said: “There remains no suggestion of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of the OCI or any of its staff.”

Question 2: Was the OCI aware of the arrangement with Mallon and was it satisfied with it, given its warning to THG not to involve itself in the distribution of tickets?

For Pro10, they insist there was no breach of rules in Mr Mallon handling the tickets on its behalf they said in a statement yesterday, and THG have insisted Mallon is completely innocent.

They said they applied for the contract to handle the tickets in Rio, but would have incurred a financial loss if they had to have their own person on the ground.

Question 3: But as distribution of tickets was a major component of the arrangement with the OCI, how were they awarded the contract if they were unable or unwilling to fulfill this part of the service themselves?

Given the furore, the OCI is under fire and has launched an investigation into the affair. Now, given it is a central player, it has been pointed out that it would be investigating itself.

In its own statement yesterday, the OCI denied it would be judge and jury on itself.

But Shane Ross and Patrick O’Donovan, the line ministers are not convinced by this, nor are other leading politicans, who are demanding answers.

Leading member of the Public Accounts Committee, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock said: “There’s a clear need for an investigation into the OCI relationship with Pro 10, how it came about and the details of that relationship. There’s also an equally pressing need for an investigation on the link between Pro 10 and THG, and the individual working for THG.”

“It’s mind boggling that Pro 10 - the agency charged with distributing tickets - had nobody in Rio but THG, a rival agency who were explicitly told by the International Olympic committee that they had no role in distributing tickets, were present,” he told me yesterday.

Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fail echoed those comments: “The statements to date stretch credibility and taken together read like a ladybird fairytale.”

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