In August 2008, the world turned its attention to Beijing as the 49th Summer Olympics got underway.
At the time, Chinese eCommerce company Alibaba was still just nine years old and still some five years away from its eventual initial public offering.
12 years on and Alibaba is set to feature alongside some of the oldest and most well-known global brands as a Worldwide Olympic Partner for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Speaking with B&T, Alibaba Group CMO Chris Tung reflected on the importance of the partnership for the company.
“We really want to leverage our technologies to leave a positive impact around the world. The Olympics provides a very unique platform to support our globalisation strategy,” he said.
“It’s more than a traditional sponsorship in our minds – we see the partnership as a way to showcase our innovations and technologies to the world through the tradition of the Games.”
Alibaba, which started as a B2B marketplace site, now offers electronic payment services, shopping search engines and cloud computing services.
Although financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, Reuters has suggested the 12-year partnership is “likely valued at several hundred millions of dollars”.
“This is the perfect time for us to tell Alibaba’s story and introduce what Alibaba is about,” Tung said.
“We have built a very strong footprint in the majority of markets around the world through our eCommerce platform and also support businesses with Alibaba Cloud technology worldwide.
“Our mission as a company is to make it easier to do business anywhere in the world. This is who we are and we’d like to support the Olympic Games with our technology to share what we stand for and what we can do for the business sector as well.”
the young Olympics
Alongside credibility and sustainability, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has cited youth as a key pillar for the upcoming Tokyo Games.
Tung explained how this fits into Alibaba’s vision.
“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is designed to be the most innovative and the youngest Games to date,” he said.
“Attracting more attention from younger generations is really critical for both the IOC and Alibaba.
“It’s also an opportunity to showcase how digital technology can make a difference in terms of engaging young generations.”
As well as playing a role in Aliabab’s globalisation efforts, the partnership is also aimed to be a source of pride among China, especially as excitement builds for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Alibaba will roll out campaigns and promotions to ramp up the Olympics excitement among its hundreds of millions Chinese users.
These include online challenges, virtual games, offline events and sports-themed deals on its Chinese platform Tmall.
“Through these creative campaigns, we will encourage more people to participate in sports and follow the games and leagues they like, wherever they are, and ignite imagination for a better sporting experience in the future,” Tung explained.
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