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LA 2024 names Gene Sykes chief executive to oversee bid for Olympics

Bidding for the Summer Olympics is a high-stakes proposition.

The LA 2024 committee will spend an estimated $50 million over the next two years campaigning to host a massive sporting event that -- if Los Angeles wins -- could end up costing more than $6 billion.

So bid leaders have turned to someone from the financial world to oversee daily operations.

Gene Sykes has agreed to take leave from his position as a partner at the investment bank Goldman Sachs to serve as unpaid chief executive for the committee, it was announced Thursday.

“It’s not every day that you get to work on a worldwide, public experience," Sykes said, calling the bid a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

So far, Mayor Eric Garcetti and sports executive Casey Wasserman have guided the campaign, making public appearances and speaking with International Olympic Committee members at various functions.

Still, LA 2024 needed an executive to oversee the nuts and bolts of what figures to be a complex, two-year process.

"Gene has built a distinguished career advising the world’s greatest companies and nonprofit organizations and I’m confident he is the ideal executive to be trusted with the day-to-day responsibility of our city’s bid," Garcetti said in a statement.

Sykes joined Goldman Sachs' mergers and acquisitions department in 1984 and became a partner in 1992. An alumnus of Harvard and Stanford, the San Fernando Valley native is also a member of Stanford's board of trustees.

“Gene is a very talented leader, with a proven ability to bring people together to achieve ambitious, complex goals," said Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger.

The addition was announced a day after Magic Johnson and labor leader Maria Elena Durazo joined swimmer Janet Evans on the committee’s board.

“In this day and age, you want to start with a strong business leader and backfill with the other important elements,” said David Carter, executive director of USC’s Marshall Sports Business Institute.

Wasserman will continue to act as the bid committee's chairman. Next week, an LA 2024 contingent is scheduled to travel to Switzerland for a meeting with IOC officials.

All five candidates -- including Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary -- will participate in individual workshops to help prepare their bids.

The IOC is scheduled to select a host in 2017.

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