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Irish Olympic staff passports seized, as ticket-scalping probe widens

Irish Olympic staff passports seized, as ticket-scalping probe widens
By Hugo Lowell
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RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian police investigating Rio Olympic ticket-scalping seized several passports of Ireland’s delegation on Sunday, as the scandal continued to cloud the final moments of South America’s first Games.

The expansion of the probe comes as former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Hickey remained in Rio’s maximum-security Bangu prison, following his arrest on Wednesday for alleged ties to a group illegally selling Games tickets.

The Olympic Committee of Ireland (OCI), the country’s national association, said no further arrests were made, but confirmed additional delegation members had been asked to “present themselves for questioning”, to which they agreed.

“Early this morning in Rio, Brazilian police arrived at the OCI accommodation outside the Olympic village,” the body said, adding unused tickets were also confiscated from their office within the athletes’ village.

The investigation has been ongoing for nearly the full duration of the Rio Olympics, with the first arrests made two weeks ago. The most high profile of those arrested include Hickey, as well as Kevin Mallon of THG Sports, a hospitality company.

Hickey was due to attend the closing ceremony, but has instead traded a prime seat in the officials’ stand at the Maracana stadium for a cell in the notorious Bangu 10 prison complex after his appeal for bail was denied by a Rio judge.

It is understood he is sharing the cell with Mallon, and is receiving the same treatment and rights as the other inmates.

“Mr. Hickey has been arrested due to suppositions that are not supported by any material evidence or proof of the alleged facts presented by the police,” said Hickey’s lawyer, Arthur Lavigne, in his first statement. “His arrest has no legal support.”

“The investigation did not bring one single slight indication that Mr. Hickey could be involved with the facts therein investigated, and his detention was required by the police authority under mere assumptions.”

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