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China’s Alibaba becomes major sponsor of Olympics

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has become a major sponsor of the Olympic Games after signing a deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that runs until 2028, the two parties said on Thursday.

Alibaba, which becomes the official e-commerce and cloud services partner, joins 12 other companies – including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s – as top Olympic sponsors.

No financial details were disclosed. IOC sources have previously told Reuters that major sponsors pay about $100 million per four-year cycle, which includes one summer and one winter games.

The Alibaba deal comes as Asia prepares to host three consecutive games, with South Korea’s Pyeongchang staging the 2018 winter games, Tokyo the 2020 summer Olympics and Beijing the 2022 winter games.

“This is a ground-breaking, innovative alliance, and will help drive efficiencies in the organisation of the Olympic Games through 2028,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

Sitting next to Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma at a news conference, Bach added: “This is an historic strategic partnership in the digital world. It will transform the global Olympic movement.”

The IOC hopes the deal will make the Olympics movement more technologically efficient and secure, while also creating a platform for promoting licensed products and extending the reach of its newly-created digital platform, the Olympic Channel.

“We share the same values and vision as the IOC,” Ma said. “Alibaba can bring a lot of quality to the Olympics with cloud technology.”

He said the deal would help his company take a further step in becoming “a global company”.

“We are founded in China but are built for the world,” Ma said.

The deal also includes the 2024 Olympics, with Los Angeles, Paris and Budapest bidding for them and the IOC due to pick the winner in September. The bidding process for the 2026 and 2028 games, which the agreement also includes, has not yet started.

(Editing by Pravin Char and Mark Potter)

China’s Alibaba is not interested in acquisitions this year as it is in partnerships, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said on Thursday.

“I am not interested in acquisitions. I am more interested in partnerships,” Ma said at a news conference on Alibaba’s Olympic sponsorship deal, when he asked about his company’s plans for the year. “We want to look for partners and empower them to be powerful,” he said.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Larry King)

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