Thursday, December 08, 2022

US Olympic leaders introduce former LA28 CEO Gene Sykes as president

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Friday elected Gene Sykes, the former CEO of the Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee, to a role that will guide policy in America’s Olympic movement for the next four years and beyond. will shape.

Details of the board vote were not immediately released. Sykes was vying for a seat against Dexter Paine, a current board member with deep ties to the ski community and the more than 50 national governing bodies that run individual sports across America.

But the board chose Sykes, who built ties in the international community during a process that saw LA try for the 2024 Games, then landed the Olympics for 2028. In a complicated deal with IOC that revamped the bidding process. Some would see this option as a way to further the already symbiotic relationship between the USOPC and the LA bid.

Sykes, a longtime executive at Goldman Sachs who has a seat on the LA28 board, will take over for Susan Lyons when her term ends at the end of the year.

“I am inspired by the opportunity in front of me, and grateful to Susan for leaving the organization so well to achieve overall success on and off the playground,” Sykes said in a statement released by the USOPC.

The decision of the 17-person board is expected to be met with panic from leaders of national governing bodies (NGBs), who have recently criticized the USOPC leadershipMainly what they say is due to flat revenue and lapses in communication.

The two major groups, the athletes and the NGB, overwhelmingly voted Paine who should be the next chair in a handful of informal polls held last month.

Ultimately, the decision came to the current members of the board, and they chose Sykes, who is highly regarded in Olympic circles for his work with the LA committee. He left that job in 2018, but maintains ties to the Olympic world, which he told the USOPC assembly last month in a handful of meetings with various groups.

It has to overcome some internal political challenges. The management team, led by CEO Sarah Hirshland, should oversee athlete safety, athlete performance, fundraising, a potential bid for the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and the direction of the LA Organizing Committee, which now runs sponsorship and revenue initiatives.

The conflict inherent in all those competing agendas – for example, the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal, which led to the USOPC placing increased responsibilities on the NGB despite an essentially flat budget – came to the fore at the federation’s annual gathering last month.

A recurring theme of NGB leaders was that they were being asked to do more with less, and the USOPC leadership was not asking with them about how the money is divided.

“We didn’t give them extra money to hire a lot of employees,” Leon told the Associated Press in an interview last month. “So they’re trying to do something with the same money, but they have more things to do. So, you have to grow the pie.”

Marketing for USOPC is now in the hands of the LA 2028 committee, making the former leader of the overall enterprise a natural fit. Sykes’ election may also have had some loose ties with Peter Uberoth’s tenure as chairman. But Uberroth became president two decades after LA shaped the successful 1984 Olympics—the games that restored the faltering Olympic movement around the world.

Nearly four decades later, the Olympics are under pressure again – a reality best illustrated by disappointing TV ratings For both last year’s Summer Games in Tokyo and this year’s Winter Games in Beijing.

Everyone at the USOPC is well aware that a shrinking fan base will ultimately spell great trouble for both the American team and the movement as a whole. This is the key issue when Sykes officially assumes the job on January 1.

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