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Volume 22 No. 23
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USOC leaders take on new roles with IOC

A new generation of U.S. Olympic leaders have been named to some of the International Olympic Committee’s advisory commissions, restoring American influence after a gap and bringing Los Angeles 2028 into the global fold as its preparations get underway.

U.S. Olympic Committee Chair Susanne Lyons has been appointed to the IOC’s marketing commission, her first formal role at the global level since she replaced Larry Probst in January. Also, new CEO Sarah Hirshland was tapped to join the Olympic Program Commission, giving her a seat at the table as members discuss future changes to the sport lineup.

For Lyons, a retired CMO of Olympic sponsor Visa, the position is short of full IOC membership, which her predecessor held from 2013 to 2018. However, she’ll bring an American voice back to the panel after former CEO Scott Blackmun resigned last year.

Lyons and Hirshland’s roles were announced as part of the IOC’s 2019 commission rosters released on May 14. The 27 commissions, made up of both voting IOC members and non-members, are intended to provide oversight, business connections and broad strategic guidance to IOC staff. Their influence has waned as President Thomas Bach consolidates power in the executive staff and a small circle of trusted members, but their makeup remains closely watched by insiders for evidence of individuals’ status in the movement.

While Lyons is just one of 23 members of the marketing commission, her credentials as chair of the largest national Olympic committee and the former top marketer of Visa will give her an outsized voice.

There will be a new chair of the marketing commission. The IOC tapped Czech IOC member Jiri Kejval to replace former Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, who resigned in March amid allegations of bribery connected to Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Also as part of the commission appointments, several members of the Los Angeles 2028 organizing committee were given roles, a common practice to integrate future host cities into broader decision-making.