Alibaba is to be the official cloud services provider for the Olympics until 2028, the Chinese corporation and the International Olympic Committee announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The e-commerce and cloud company will also become one of the athletics event’s biggest sponsors, in a deal thought to be worth $600 million.

The race is on

Jack Ma at Davos
Alibaba head Jack Ma at Davos – World Economic Forum

The partnership comes as the next three Olympics (one summer, two winter) will be in Asia - Pyeongchang in South Korea, Tokyo in Japan, and Beijing in China.

For the next six Olympic Games, Alibaba will provide general cloud services and big data analytics with its AliYun platform, also known as Alibaba Cloud. It will also create a global e-commerce platform to sell Olympic merchandise, and help with an Olympic Channel for Chinese audiences.

Cloud services will likely also include protection against DDoS attacks that in the past have aggressively hit Olympic sites.

“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 Jack Ma, founder and exec chairman of Alibaba Group.

“We are proud to support Olympic Agenda 2020, using our innovations and technologies to help evolve the Olympic Games for the digital era.”

Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, added: “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.”

Financial terms of the deal were not discussed, but The FT believes that it will make the IOC “at least $600m” over the course of the deal.

Davos deals

Ma, who attended Davos along with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the nation’s most powerful business leaders, also held his own talk at the World Economic Forum.

There, he had choice words for US domestic and foreign policy, ahead of the upcoming Trump administration. 

“It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys,” Ma, China’s richest man, said. “It’s your strategy. Distribute the money and things in a proper way.”

He continued: “The American multinational companies made millions and millions of dollars from globalization. The past 30 years, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, they’ve made tens of millions — the profits they’ve made are much more than the four Chinese banks put together. … But where did the money go?”

“In the past 30 years, America has had 13 wars at a cost of $14.2 trillion.” he said. “That’s where the money went.”

Ma posited an alternate history: “What if they had spent part of that money on building up their infrastructure, helping white-collar and blue-collar workers? You’re supposed to spend money on your own people.”

The Alibaba founder’s comments come as the world waits to see how today’s new US President will work with China. Seen by some as a rejection of globalization, Trump has called for trade wars with China, something which would clearly affect Alibaba’s bottom line.

Perhaps in an effort to avoid such a trade confrontation, Ma met with Trump earlier this year, promising to boost US jobs through trade to China, rather than from.

Xi Jinping has also made comments that appear to be focused on avoiding trade wars, opening Davos with a speech defending the concept of globalization.