— Published 15 September 2021

With Kathy Carter, Los Angeles 2028 makes history

Kathy Carter

For the first time in the history of the Olympic movement, a woman has been chosen to head an Olympic Games organising committee. She is American.

Kathy Carter, 51, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles 2028 Organising Committee. The announcement was made on Tuesday, September 14th, in a press release. The position was held for a long time by Gene Sykes, notably during the bidding phase, and had been vacant for nearly three years.

By choosing Kathy Carter to take the seat number two, one rank below President Casey Wasserman, Los Angeles 2028 is not shaking up its organisation chart. The American was already in the house since 2018.

Based in New York, she headed the marketing department. She was also the chief revenue officer and managing director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Properties LLC, the company created by LA 2028 and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to oversee the Games and Team USA’s marketing. But with this choice, the organising committee is sending a double signal.

The first is symbolic. By taking over as CEO of LA 2028, Kathy Carter becomes the first woman to lead an organising committee for an Olympic Games. With Seiko Hashimoto, the Japanese of Tokyo 2020 had already feminised the presidential function, along the way, after Yoshiro Mori’s forced resignation. But the Californians will remain the first to have entrusted the mission to a director general.

The other signal is more expected. With less than seven years to go, Los Angeles 2028 sets the tone: marketing will be one of the organising team’s priorities, if not its main one. It already was. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. The search for new partners is becoming more and more complex, despite the remaining colossal appeal of the Olympic event.

Kathy Carter has a background in football and was one of the founders of the Major League Soccer. For several years, she chaired Soccer United Marketing. She was also in charge of finding partners for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Since her recruitment as head of marketing for Los Angeles 2028, the organising committee has not dawdled. Three major partners – Delta Air Lines, Comcast and Salesforce – have already been brought on board, with contracts worth an estimated $400 million each. Three other official sponsors – Deloitte, Nike and Ralph Lauren – have also joined the venture.

The Los Angeles 2028 team currently includes just under 100 employees, including a dozen directors.

Newly appointed Kathy Carter has warned that in the coming months she will be discussing what Los Angeles 2028 will and will not be able to provide in terms of services with the IOC. The Californians have announced a budget of 6.9 billion dollars. They do not intend to increase it, despite a still uncertain sanitary and security context.

“The priority will be to see how we can change the discourse and think differently about the Games themselves,” explains Kathy Carter. “We need to differentiate between what is a ‘must’ and what is an opportunity to do things differently”. Moving the lines, therefore, but without risking a skid.