Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has been announced as the newest member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) top-tier sponsorship roster.
Joining The Olympic Partner (TOP) programme, the conglomerate becomes both the official cloud services and officical e-commerce platform services partner of the IOC. Alibaba has also been named as a founding partner of the Olympic Channel, the new over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting platform of the Olympic movement.
Alibaba will offer cloud computing infrastructure and services to the IOC, supporting the governing body's push to modernise its analytics, e-commerce and digital media offerings. It will also provide services to the national organising committees of each Olympic Games for which it is a partner.
The deal runs until the end of 2028, covering the next three Olympic cycles. Significantly, the timeframe takes in three Olympic Games in Alibaba's biggest market of Asia, with the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, and the 2022 Winter Games, which will take place in Alibaba's home territory in Beijing.
The partnership was announced at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with IOC president Thomas Bach present alongside Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, and Daniel Zhang, the group's chief executive.
“Alibaba is proud to empower the International Olympic Committee in a game-changing digital transformation, while moving another step closer toward our goal to serve two billion consumers,” said Zhang. “We will leverage our experience in serving a young user base to help connect more young people to the Olympic movement, helping to strengthen our brand through this historic partnership.”
Ma, China's second richest man, has followed many of his countrymen in recent times in making a significant push into sport, though this marks the first time a Chinese company has been signed up as a TOP sponsor.
Wanda, the group owned by China's richest man Wang Jianlin, last year signed a significant partnership with Fifa, the global governing body for soccer.