Wasserman, LA28 Keep Low Profile At Pyeongchang Games
Los Angeles ’28 Chairman Casey Wasserman’s role at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics feels a bit like the job description of a modern European king: Show up, eat well, make friends and under no circumstances actually do anything.
I caught up with Wasserman just hours before the opening ceremony on Friday, in an empty restaurant inside Pyeongchang’s Kensington Flora Hotel. Clad in a snow camouflage parka and sporting a light beard, he explained that the International Olympic Committee has asked LA28 to refrain from making formal presentations to the IOC session as future host cities generally do because it’s such a low priority compared to earlier Games in Tokyo, Beijing and Paris.
So he’s left to attend the IOC President’s Dinner and maybe take in a few sporting events (though his itinerary for Sunday of the men’s downhill and the women’s giant slalom were both canceled due to weather) and watch the show unfold.
“[I’m] trying to imagine what is going to be important or fundamental to what we do, so just being here and seeing the experience here — your experience, what’s the press experience? How do fans get into Olympic park?,” he said. “That’s all the stuff when you don’t have to build anything you can actually focus on, and the best way for me to get my head around what we should be focusing my energy and opportunity on is to experience it myself.”
The substantive high point of his three days in Korea was Saturday night, when he had dinner with new IOC sponsor Alibaba’s executive team and then attended the debut of the unified Korean hockey team. Alibaba is one of the only sponsors, along with Omega, to have already extended past Paris ’24.
At the IOC President’s Dinner on Thursday night, Wasserman was at the head table along with the IOC executive board, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and, speaking of royalty, the royals who sit on the IOC.
Wasserman considered — but couldn’t bring himself — to ask IOC member Princess Anne (the oldest daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and brother to Prince Charles) about the hit Netflix show “The Crown,” which portrays her father, Prince Philip, as a particularly uncaring husband and father.
“I said to someone — it’s a long, narrow table, she wasn’t right across from me directly, but she was two over — and I wonder what she’d say if I asked her about ‘The Crown?’” Wasserman said. “But I’m probably not going to ask her, so I’m just not going to find out. My guess is, I’m not sure a lot of people have the balls to ask her about ‘The Crown.’”
Sunday night, he was scheduled to depart for NBC’s Olympic program in Jackson Hole, Wyo., before returning to L.A. on Tuesday.