(ATR) For the first time in years Patrick Hickey misses an EOC meeting.
The EOC meets in Frankfurt Aug. 29. (EOC)
Elected president of the 50 member continental association in 2006, Hickey is suddenly out after his arrest in Brazil August 17 on charges of illegal sale of Olympic tickets.
Hickey has voluntarily stepped aside from his presidency of the Olympic Council of Ireland and the European Olympic Committees, as well as his duties as an IOC member, pending resolution of the legal issues in Brazil.
The 18-member EOC executive committee met Monday for the first time since Hickey’s arrest, the extraordinary meeting held in Frankfurt at the headquarters of the German NOC, the DOSB.
The meeting was led by Janez Kocijančič, the Slovenian now the acting president of the EOC.
The only official statement from the meeting expresses thanks for Hickey’s release from a Brazilian prison after nearly two weeks. Hickey was freed Tuesday, but will need to remain in Rio de Janeiro pending developments in the investigation.
“The EOC welcomes the news that Patrick Hickey has been released from preventative custody in Bangu maximum-security prison. We believe this was the correct decision as it respects the dignity and fundamental human rights of Mr. Hickey. The EOC respectfully requests that these rights continue to be respected, including the principle of proportionality when under criminal investigation and Mr Hickey’s presumption of innocence.
“The EOC Executive Committee fully respects the Brazilian judicial procedures and it is
Hickey has served as EOC president since 2006. (ATR)
not our intention to comment on, nor question, any matter relating to a specific legal case in Brazil.”
The charges being investigated against Hickey grew out of the August 5 arrest of Kevin Mallon, an executive with Irish ticket sales agent THG. Police seized more than 800 tickets supposedly allocated to the Irish NOC.
Attorneys for Hickey and Mallon deny wrongdoing by their clients.
While the case against Hickey involves his presidency of the OCI, the consequences will be felt at the EOC, suddenly absent its president, serving his third term.
A member of the executive committee attending the Monday meeting said that many questions face the EOC in the wake of Hickey’s indisposition. He says the organization now must consider how to move ahead without Hickey, including electing a successor if needed.
That election could result in a battle for the presidency between Eastern and Western European blocs.
This leadership crisis comes as the EOC wrestles with what to do about the future of the European Games, the next version supposed to come in 2019. Hickey has been the driving force behind the event first held in 2015 by Baku, Azerbaijan. But once hoping to have a 2019 host picked in Baku, Hickey and the EOC have not found a successor. Russia, once favored to step in, was barred in June by the IOC as a consequence of the doping scandal that has rocked Russian sport.
While no decisions were made at the Monday EOC meeting, those may come Sept. 23 when the EOC executive is supposed to hold its next meeting in Bratislava.
Written by Ed Hula.
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