(ATR) The reputation of the IOC is taking a body blow following the arrest of Patrick Hickey in Rio de Janeiro.
Police came knocking at the door to his room at the Windsor Marapendi Hotel Wednesday morning. A video crew recorded the episode that bordered on the comic.
And while plenty of IOC members have been arrested over the years, not one has been collared during the Olympics we’ve covered since 1992.
Hickey is now the third person arrested in connection with a Brazilian investigation of sales of tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland. The charges he faces could mean seven years in jail.
While he has voluntarily stepped aside from all of his official functions, the IOC could formally suspend him while his case is prosecuted in Brazil. In either case, the cascade of consequences means immediate leadership changes at the Olympic Council of Ireland and the European Olympic Committees, where Hickey is president of both. It also means an empty seat on the IOC Executive Board to which he was just elected two weeks ago.
For family and friends who traveled with Hickey to Brazil for the Games, the shock of his arrest must be hard to bear.
While he is innocent until proven guilty, the IOC nonetheless is saddled with another controversy involving a member that impugns the integrity of the organization.
This case follows the demise of ex-IAAF President Lamine Diack, who is under investigation by French police for accepting bribes to keep quiet about positive drug tests for Russian track and field athletes. While the charges came after Diack left the IOC, the alleged transactions took place while he would have been a member. Facing the possibility of expulsion as an honorary IOC member, he resigned late last year to avoid such ignominy.
These two active inquiries are a setback for the IOC, which constantly battles critics’ perceptions that it is a corrupt organization. The case against Diack could implicate other IOC member in the months ahead. His IOC career is over and he could bring down others.
Hickey, who’s about to be cut off from the support of mothership IOC, may need the best lawyers in Brazil if he hopes to return to Dublin anytime soon. Whether he ever returns to the IOC is another matter.
For the IOC it may take more than spin to convince sponsors, media and the public that it brooks no deceit in its ranks.
Medal Events for Thursday, Aug. 18
Teams will compete for the first medal opportunities in field hockey while the men's triathletes also go for gold on Thursday.
Competitors in athletics, badminton, boxing, canoe sprint, diving, taekwondo and wrestling will continue their quests for gold while athletes in beach volleyball and sailing will have their last opportunities to reach the podium in Rio.
A full moon Wednesday night, waning for the final days of the Game.
Thursday forecast - The hot temperatures in Rio will dip down on Thursday with a high of 26c and a low of 22c.
Friday forecast - A moderate chance for rain Thursday night into Friday morning and temperatures expected to reach a high of 28c should make for humid conditions Friday afternoon.
Written by Ed Hula.
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