Sarah Keane: OCI wary over Pat Hickey

Olympic Council of Ireland president Sarah Keane acknowledged yesterday that she is “uncomfortable” with the possibility of Pat Hickey returning to the OCI Board.

Sarah Keane on the OCI and Pat Hickey's role on its board: 'We're being very transparent and open about it.'

Hickey, the former OCI president, could do so due to his status as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

Hickey ‘self-suspended’ himself from all Olympic duties following a scandal surrounding the sale of tickets for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Irish officials have contacted the IOC to express their hope that Hickey would not have an automatic seat on the board, and would also not enjoy voting rights

However, the OCI’s new executive committee were told that this would be in breach of their International Olympic Charter.

Keane said: “The board is uncomfortable with the situation. I think we’ve already come out and made our sentiments clear about that.

“The IOC are very clear that this is not personal from their perspective. This is their charter and everybody is obliged to comply with that,” she explained.

“We felt, though, we should engage with the IOC directly on the issue and we wanted to make sure that they understood our perspective and how people feel about it. That is the situation and as things unfold we will look at how we deal with it. This matter is still to be played out over the next couple of years.”

While Hickey — who has not breached any company law during his roles in the Olympic Movement — resigned from the IOC’s executive board with immediate effect in September, he still remains an ordinary member of the committee.

When quizzed about the practical issues this affair has for the reputation of the OCI, Keane was quick to pinpoint the transparency they have shown on the matter.

“We’re being very transparent and open about it. It’s a right and entitlement of the IOC member under the charter. They don’t have to sit on the board.

"Also, from our perspective in relation to our current IOC member, it’s not an issue currently for us, because they’re self-suspended and there’s a whole ethics commission investigation which is ongoing.

“I think where we are with the IOC, this is a matter we’ll be having further discussions about over time. They have engaged with us very positively, very openly. They’ve allowed us to express our opinions, and I’ve had direct access to Thomas Bach, the president of the [IOC], on several occasions this year.”

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