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Police want to quiz IOC head in ticket probe

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IOC President Thomas Bach caused a stir this week by failing to turn up for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Rio © AFP/File / Laurent Kalfala

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Sep 9 – Brazilian police said Thursday they want to question International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach as a witness in investigations of a suspected ticket scam by officials during last month’s Games.

Rio de Janeiro police official Ronaldo Oliveira said investigators had seen an email that the top suspect in the probe, Ireland’s Olympic chief Patrick Hickey, sent to Bach requesting tickets.

“We want to question Thomas Bach as a witness because he features in the emails and we want to clear up certain uncertainties,” Oliveira told a news conference.

Bach caused a stir this week by failing to turn up for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Rio on Wednesday.

Another investigator, Ricardo Barbosa de Souza, said Hickey emailed Bach in July 2015 asking to increase his allocation of tickets to last month’s Games in Rio.

“Mr Bach did not reply but we know that Mr Hickey received 296 extra tickets for the Rio Olympic Games and that is why we want to question the president of the IOC,” the investigator said.

The emails were found on a computer seized from another suspect in the scandal, Irish Olympic Committee member Martin Burk, during a raid on the delegation’s hotel in Rio.

Police have estimated the profits from the black market ticket sales at about $3 million.

Hickey, 71, was arrested on August 17 and held in jail until a judge granted him conditional release on August 29. He is forbidden to leave Brazil pending investigations.

Another Irish suspect was also arrested in the probe: Kevin Mallon, director of British hospitality firm THG.

Police also seized passports from three other Irish Olympic officials and issued arrest warrants for several other suspects.

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