• Brazilian police arrest two individuals in possession of Irish allocation tickets
• Olympic Council of Ireland launches immediate investigation
The Irish Olympic Council has denied any knowledge of alleged ticket touting after its name was pictured on tickets seized by police as part of a huge crackdown on alleged touting, during which they arrested two individuals linked to a company owned by Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans.
One of those arrested, an Irishman named Kevin James Mallon, was allegedly caught selling tickets for the Olympics opening ceremony at hugely inflated prices. According to police, a search of Mallon’s luxury hotel found that it was allegedly being used as the premises for London based firm THG, to illegally resell Olympic tickets. According to photographs produced by the police, some of the opening ceremony tickets featured the name of the Olympic Council of Ireland.
“The Olympic Council Of Ireland (OCI) has no knowledge of the two individuals arrested. The OCI has launched an immediate investigation with our Authorised Ticket Reseller into how the these individuals were allegedly in possession of OCI allocated tickets,” it said in a statement. “The OCI strictly adheres to the IOC regulations around ticket allocation, sale and re-sale. We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness.”
It is understood that the company concerned, which is owned by Ipswich owner Evans, is not the authorised re-seller for Ireland’s Olympic tickets, although it did have a deal to resell tickets for the London and Sochi Games.
Each National Olympic Committee receives an allocation to sell with hospitality through an authorised reseller and the deal the Irish did for London 2012 was with Evans. Brazilian police said on Monday that they had arrested the two alleged Olympic ticket touts who work for British corporate hospital company THG.
The two suspects, named by authorities as Irishman Kevin James Mallon and Brazilian Barbara Carnieri, are accused of criminal conspiracy, ambush marketing and facilitating touting.
A judge has approved a request for them to be jailed pending further investigations into suspicions that they sold seats at inflated prices for the Opening Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro last Friday.
In a statement, the Civil Police’s Centre for Major Event Support said it had caught the suspects “red handed” during an operation last Friday that also found more than 1,000 tickets had been sold at inflated values.
After they were seized at the Next Flat hotel in Barra da Tijuca, police took depositions from alleged clients who said they had come to buy tickets from them at prices higher than the face value.
nt noted the company’s CEO James Sinton was arrested in Brazil in 2014 for organising a “ticket mafia” during the 2014 World Cup finals. Carnieri is said to be a local interpreter who was hired by THG three months ago.
Sinton was detained two years ago on suspicions that he illegally sold tickets and hospitality packages at the Sofitel in Copacabana. He was reportedly fined and released.
THG have yet to respond to The Guardian’s email and phone calls requesting comment. There is no mention of a Mallon on the company website.
The company, which has 69 offices and several thousand staff, is one of the world’s biggest sports ticketing and hospitality firms.
Overall ticket sales have been sluggish at the Olympics, but there is considerable interest in event finals and the closing ceremony.
Organisers claim that they have sold 84% of all tickets but there have been considerable gaps in many venues. Nevertheless, touts have been spotted on the fringes of the Olympic Park and organisers said they were liaising with police over the issue.
A spokesman for the organisers of the Games said Brazil had learned from the experience of hosting the World Cup in 2014.
“We created a group with the police around two years ago exactly to fight against this kind of sale,” said Donovan Ferreti, who is charge of ticketing for Rio 2016. “And because of that we had this great action today.”