James Crombie/INPHO Former OCI president Pat Hickey has returned to Ireland on bail.
In the red
Rio ticketing scandal costs the Olympic Council of Ireland €1.5 million - and it could rise
The organisation published its financial results ahead of the AGM tonight.

THE RIO TICKETING scandal, and the arrest of the Olympic Council of Ireland’s (OCI) former president Pat Hickey, has so far cost the organisation a staggering €1.5 million, resulting in losses of €800,000 for 2016.

The OCI’s financial results for the year were this afternoon presented to the media by Hickey’s successor, Sarah Keane, ahead of its Annual General Meeting in Dublin later.

Described as a ‘chaotic, dramatic, traumatic and extremely costly’ year by Keane, the fallout and repercussions from last August’s controversy are still being felt by an organisation attempting to pick through the damage and fully rebuild its reputation.

While Keane referred to the significant reputational cost to the OCI and certain individuals embroiled in the scandal, the most devastating impact of it all is in organisation’s accounts as revealed earlier.

The known financial effect of last summer’s events stands at €1.5 million, including €1.04 million on legal fees (10-15 sets of lawyers in Ireland and Rio to represent OCI staff and Hickey) as well as €232,000 on the commission of two reports to investigate the OCI’s governance.

It all means the OCI were dragged into the red in 2016, posting a loss of €826,180 but Keane insisted the organisation can continue to operate thanks to reserves. Keane also added that the OCI may be able to recoup some of the cost through insurance.

Among the other costs were €84,000 in public relation fees, €70,000 on data protection, consultancy and IT and €31,000 on accommodation and travel.

“It is a significant amount of money, and nobody is happy it’s gone the way it has,” Keane said.

Sarah Keane Morgan Treacy / INPHO OCI president Sarah Keane speaks at a media briefing this afternoon. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“It was a criminal matter and it was significant for everyone involved with board members stuck out in Rio with no passport and they are entitled to get advice and support around that.

“It is quite complex, it is a lot of money, and it’s not done. But people are entitled to be represented. This is very serious obviously with criminal charges against a certain individual and very difficult and traumatic for others. It is what it is, and there’s going to be more.”

71-year-old Hickey was arrested in Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games after it was alleged he was involved in a ticket-touting operation. He denies any wrongdoing.

After a bond of €410,000 was paid on the condition he returns to Brazil to face the charges, Hickey arrived home to Ireland on bail last December.

When asked if she or the OCI were aware of when Hickey’s case may be heard, Keane said: “Genuinely no. We’re hearing there’s nothing happening, that there’s no court case being heard at all at the moment, that’s what we’re being told, and look it’s in everyone’s interest including Pat’s that the matter is dealt with as soon as possible.”

The full extent of the cost of the scandal to the OCI will only become clear once the legal proceedings in Brazil come to a conclusion.

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