Transparency key to sports funding says minister

Sports Minister Patrick O’Donovan has vowed to impose strict new transparency rules on sporting bodies receiving State funds in response to the Rio Olympics controversy unless full clarity on how money is spent is provided.

The Fine Gael minister increased the pressure on the Olympic Council of Ireland and other organisations as it emerged THG director Kevin James Mallon will appear in a Rio court within two weeks over a multi-million euro ticket scandal and further questions were raised over the involvement of Pat Hickey.

Speaking before returning to Brazil for the start of the Paralympic Games on Wednesday, Mr O’Donovan stressed that “the cost of receiving public money is 100% probity and 100% compliance”.

And if groups do not want to “adhere” to the situation, he warned: “Don’t come to the public purse looking for capital funding.”

Mr O’Donovan’s comments come just days after a Government-backed independent review was set up to examine issues surrounding the ongoing Olympic ticket scandal and as a separate OCI-review into itself by Grant Thornton accounts also takes place.

Both investigations are running in tandem with a criminal case by Brazilian police into allegations that Mr Hickey, who has temporarily stepped aside as OCI president, hospitality firm THG, and ticket sellers Pro10 were involved in a multi- million euro ticket touting scam.

While all individuals involved deny any wrongdoing, Mr Hickey remains in Rio under house arrest after being released from the notorious Bangu prison in the Brazilian city last week.

Mr Mallon, the THG director from Dublin found with 823 OCI-tagged tickets in Rio despite the fact his company was banned from any involvement in the Rio Games, is also under house arrest in the city and is due to appear in court within two weeks.

Meanwhile, weekend reports have raised further questions over Mr Hickey, after it emerged he sought hundreds of extra tickets for high-profile events Ireland had no involvement in from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

In a text message before the Olympics began which was obtained by Brazilian police, Mr Hickey requested an increase to the OCI’s ticket allocation for the opening ceremony (from 38 to 188), closing ceremony (28 to 128), men’s football final (0 to 500), men’s basketball final (0 to 30), and men’s 100 metre final (42 to 242).

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