LA 2024 selects Goldman Sachs executive Gene Sykes as CEO

The new CEO of the effort to bring the Olympics back to Los Angeles loves the idea so much, he’s working for free.

Gene Sykes, an executive with Goldman Sachs, will work full time as CEO of Los Angeles 2024 and won’t get a paycheque.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve had a career, I’ve gotten to a point in my life, where I can afford to do things where I don’t need to be paid,” Sykes said Thursday.

It’s not all that uncommon for these bid leaders to take unpaid posts — the CEOs of the Chicago 2016 and New York 2012 bids both worked for free. Still, it’s an attention grabber this time around given that Los Angeles stepped in as the U.S. bidder in place of Boston, where salaries and compensation for a number of executives and advisers were consistently in the headlines. A report in June had the CEO of the now-defunct Boston bid making $300,000 a year.

In addition to getting Sykes for free, the LA bid gets a man who has spent decades cutting deals for one of the world’s most prominent investment-banking firms.

Sykes is stepping down from his leadership positions at Goldman Sachs to take the unpaid position for LA2024, where he will supervise day-to-day operations. Los Angeles has hosted two previous Olympics, in 1932 and 1984. The United States hasn’t hosted the Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta.

Sykes, who joined Goldman Sachs in 1984, grew up in the San Fernando Valley and describes himself as a lifelong resident of the Los Angeles area.

He joins a management team led by chairman Casey Wasserman, who also does the job on a volunteer basis.

“First of all, we couldn’t afford someone like Gene,” Wasserman said. “We’re lucky to have him. His willingness to make the sacrifice for this effort, we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Los Angeles is running for the 2024 Games against Rome, Paris, Budapest, Hungary, and Hamburg, Germany. The International Olympic Committee will make the selection in 2017.