RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police say International Olympic Committee executive Patrick Hickey has been transferred to prison while under investigation in a ticket scalping scandal.
The Rio force says Hickey’s legal team unsuccessfully claimed that the Irishman was being illegally detained following his early-morning arrest at his hotel at the Rio Olympics on Wednesday.
Police only began questioning the 71-year-old Hickey on Thursday after he was hospitalized for a day with chest pains following his arrest.
A police statement says Hickey has now been transferred to Bangu prison in Rio.
The BBC and the Reuters news agency describe the facility as a maximum security prison.
Hickey has temporarily stepped aside from his IOC roles, including sitting on the executive board and heading the European Olympic body.
The Olympic Council of Ireland told The Associated Press that a member of its Rio Games delegation was allowed to go to Hickey’s bedside to be informed of his decision to step aside temporarily from his IOC duties.
Hickey is facing charges of conspiracy, ticket scalping and ambush marketing after allegations by Brazilian authorities that he was part of a plot to make $3 million by illegally selling Rio Games tickets above face value.
There was no indication from authorities how long Hickey will be held.
The IOC told AP that it has stopped Hickey’s $900-a-day per diem.
IOC officials condemned Rio police for allowing a TV crew to accompany them as a naked Hickey was arrested in a hotel room.
IOC member Dick Pound expressed surprise at the “theater” involved in the police actions.
“It makes it look like all sports administrators are corrupt. They’re not,” Pound told the AP. “There’s a big risk for them if they’ve got it wrong. ... Maybe it’s meant to be a deterrent for other ticket scalpers.”
Police said Ireland’s Olympic body helped transfer tickets to an unauthorized vendor who would set high fees and disguise the transaction as a hospitality package.
Kevin James Mallon, from a British hospitality provider suspected in the plot, was arrested in Rio last week. Authorities have also issued warrants for four more executives at the company, THG.
Some Irish tickets for the Olympics’ opening ceremony with a face value of $1,400 were sold for $8,000, police said.
After describing the police raid on Hickey’s hotel room as an “affront,” IOC Vice President John Coates defended his colleague.
“I know from Pat he had no idea that the representative from this company distributing these tickets was here distributing these tickets, so I look at the charges and really don’t understand the basis of the indignity that he was put through,” Coates said.
“Surely if they wanted to ascertain if there was any connection between him and the guy that was here, that should have been a discussion,” he said. “I think the members are all very worried about his well-being and the prospect of him being incarcerated.”