European Olympic head Patrick Hickey of Ireland is spending the closing days of the Rio Games in a prison after his arrest in a ticket-scalping scandal, authorities said on Friday.
The 71-year-old International Olympic Committee executive was denied bail after his legal team argued unsuccessfully that he was being detained illegally following his early-morning arrest Wednesday at his hotel.
Police only began questioning Hickey on Thursday because he was hospitalized for a day with chest pains following his arrest. Hickey has now been transferred to the sprawling Bangu prison complex in Rio, a police statement said. Hickey’s Brazilian lawyers did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Hickey has temporarily stepped down from his IOC duties, including his post on the ruling executive board and heading the influential umbrella group for Europe’s Olympic bodies.
The former judo athlete is facing charges of conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing after Brazilian authorities alleged he was part of a plot to make $3 million by illegally selling Rio Games tickets above face value.
Police said Ireland’s Olympic body helped transfer tickets to an unauthorized vendor who would set high fees and disguise the transaction as a hospitality package.
The Olympic Council of Ireland board said it will not comment Hickey’s criminal case, adding that he is “receiving his own legal advice and is entitled to natural justice and due process.”
Hickey built his power base through judo, going on to lead the Irish Olympic team at the 1988 and 1992 Games before being elected to the IOC in 1995. He joined the executive board four years ago.
The OCI has halted the earlier internal investigation established by Hickey before his arrest and set up an independent one. The Dublin-based organization said it will “cooperate fully” with a non-statutory government inquiry at home into the scandal.
Rio police made their first arrests in the investigation last week when Kevin James Mallon, from the British hospitality provider THG, was held in Rio. Authorities have also issued warrants for four more executives at the company.
Some Irish tickets for the Olympics’ opening ceremony with a face value of $1,400 were sold for $8,000, police said.“The board of the Olympic Council of Ireland regrets that recent events in Brazil have overshadowed the many great performances of Team Ireland at the Rio Olympic Games,” the organization said.