Alibaba Group has been signed up as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) top-tier sponsor until 2028 in a "transformative deal" seeking to boost the profile of sport across China, it has been announced today.
The deal, which will see the e-commerce giants join the flagship The Olympic Programme (TOP), was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos at a ceremony attended by Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma and IOC President Thomas Bach.
They will become the official "Cloud Services" and "E-Commerce Platform Services" partner of the IOC.
They will also become founding partner of the Olympic Channel.
It marks the first TOP sponsor deal set to last until 2028 and the first long-term partnership signed with a Chinese company after technology company Lenovo briefly served in the role before Beijing 2008.
There were no financial details disclosed but it is estimated that the "strategic partnership" could be worth more than $600 million ($488 million/€566 million) to the IOC over the next 12 years.
Alibaba will offer "cloud-computing infrastructure and services, support big-data analytics, e-commerce and digital-media solutions".
It is hoped this will enable the implementation of a global licensing programme, something specified in Recommendation 34 of the IOC's Agenda 2020 reform process, as well as an Olympic Channel more specifically tailored towards a Chinese audience.
Under current plans, anybody anywhere in the world could be able to purchase Olympic merchandise online in a far more streamlined process than before.
Through the partnership, Alibaba are seeking to help the IOC transform how "fans engage with the Games year-round and how the largest sporting event in the world works with all stakeholders, from Organising Committees to partners, athletes and fans".
It is possible they will also branch out into other areas, IOC marketing director Timo Lumme said, including ticketing.
Lumme revealed that "more than one company was involved" in the tender process, but that it become apparent that Alibaba was "far and away the partner of choice due to the length and breadth of their commitment".
The group's chief marketing officer Chris Tung claimed that they were keen to work with the IOC "not just" because Beijing are hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, although this does offer an "extra incentive".
It also provides a major opportunity for the Hangzhou-based company to boost their profile across the world.
"Alibaba’s partnership with the IOC is built on a foundation of shared values and a common vision for connecting the world and enriching people’s lives," said Ma.
"We are proud to support Olympic Agenda 2020, using our innovations and technologies to help evolve the Olympic Games for the digital era."
Alibaba E-Auto, the electric car subsidiary of Alibaba Group, signed an eight-year deal to become the exclusive presenting partner of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2015.
They have also signed recent agreements with other International Federations, including World Rugby and the International Boxing Federation.
At Rio 2016, Alibaba also supported China's official broadcaster CCTV to stream the Olympics via its video-sharing platform, Youku to an estimated 380 million viewers.
The group's Canadian President Michael Evans also claimed a men's eights rowing gold at Los Angeles 1984.
"In this new digital world, Alibaba is uniquely positioned to help the IOC achieve a variety of key objectives outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, while positively shaping the future of the Olympic Movement," said Bach.
"This is a ground-breaking, innovative alliance, and will help drive efficiencies in the organisation of the Olympic Games through 2028, whilst also supporting the global development of digital opportunities including the Olympic Channel."
Alibaba's addition take the number of Olympic TOP sponsors to 13.
They join McDonalds, Dow, Panasonic, P&G. Coca Cola, Samsung, Atos, General Electronic, Visa, Omega, Toyota and Bridgestone.