O’Byrne was publicly critical of Hickey and aspects of the OCI as a body in the aftermath of the Olympic ticketing controversy in Brazil last year and, having talked the talk then, he is now contemplating walking the walk by contesting the elections due on February 9.
Hickey, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games last year as part of an investigation into alleged illegal ticket sales and he duly stepped down temporarily from his role as OCI president and all other other roles in the Olympic movement.
A major player on the worldwide Olympic stage, Hickey was at the time an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, president of the European Olympic Committee and vice-president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
“There needs to be a clearout of personnel and a different modus operandi put in place at this stage,” O’Byrne told the Irish Examiner. “It needs to be a more sports-centric organisation and I wouldn’t care if no-one knew that I was president of the OCI if I was to be elected.”
O’Byrne had previously held discussions with the Basketball Ireland board about the possibility of running for the position and that body was meeting last night with a view to sanctioning their senior official’s candidacy for the OCI.
If he runs and is successful, O’Byrne envisages a situation whereby he would continue in his day job with Basketball Ireland. The OCI role he sees as one of strategic management rather than a day-to-day commitment and he feels he has considerable relevant experience to bring to the table.
“I have been through a governance crisis here at Basketball Ireland and we have come through that on the other side. I don’t believe in coronations, I believe in elections. This is not an easy decision but I am very enthusiastic about it.”’
O’Byrne, a former Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive, joined Basketball Ireland in 2011 two years after it was found that the organisation had used public funding for a purpose other than that intended and subsequently had its funding cut by the Irish Sports Council. Basketball Ireland was left in a precarious financial position. The body suffered significant job losses and, among other savings, it was also forced to withdraw its male and female, underage and senior, Ireland teams from international competitions for a lengthy period.
Other names in the ring for the Olympic body’s top role include OCI vice-president William O’Brien, who was tipped by Hickey before Rio as his immediate successor, OCI general secretary and former Team Ireland chef de mission Dermot Henihan and Swim Ireland CEO Sarah Keane.
Keane was also a member of the OCI’s crisis committee which was established to lead a response to the ticketing crisis that emerged in Brazil. Nominations for the position — all other executive positions are also up for election at Dublin’s Conrad Hotel next month — close tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Basketball Ireland has confirmed the schedule for the Hula Hoops National Cup finals weekend in Dublin, with the Women’s decider between Liffey Celtics and four-in-a-row chasing Glanmire the last of 10 finals on Sunday January 29.
Cork clubs Neptune and Glanmire are involved in five of the 10 blue ribands, with Blue Demons adding a strong Leeside tint the proceedings.
The Men’s National Cup final between Swords Thunder and Killester takes place on Saturday night at the National Arena, tip off 8pm.
Treble-chasing Neptune get the weekend off to a high octane start with their Under 18 men’s final against KUBS, who are also chasing an U18-U20 cup double.
IWA National Cup final: Limerick Scorpions/Fr Mathews v NI Knights/Killester, 6pm; Hula Hoops U18 Men’s National Cup final: BFG Neptune v KUBS BC, 8pm.
Hula Hoops U18 Women’s National Cup final: DCU Mercy v Ambassador UCC Glanmire, 10am; Hula Hoops Men’s NICC final: Blue Demons v UCD Marian, 12pm; Hula Hoops Women’s NICC final: Muckno Lakers/Limerick Celtic v Maree BC, 2pm; Hula Hoops President’s Cup final: BFG Neptune v EJ Sligo All-Stars, 5.30pm; Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup final: Pyrobel Killester v Griffith Swords Thunder, 8pm.
Hula Hoops U20 Women’s National Cup final: Killester BC v DCU Mercy, 10.30am; Hula Hoops U20 Men’s National Cup final: KUBS BC v Neptune BC, 12.30pm; Hula Hoops Senior Women’s National Cup final: Marble City Hawks v Ulster Rockets, 2.30pm; Hula Hoops Women’s National Cup final: Liffey Celtics v Ambassador UCC Glanmire, 5.15pm.