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Alibaba Scores Olympic Sponsorship Deal

Alibaba is certainly recovering after being blacklisted on the notorious marketplaces list by the USTR back in December. The Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba Group has doubly cracked down on fakes and formed an anti-counterfeiting alliance in recent weeks. And a new, multimillion-dollar deal indicates that not everyone is perturbed by the company’s reputation.

Bloomberg reports that Alibaba recently scored an $800 million sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), reportedly the largest single deal in the Olympic movement’s history. The deal means Alibaba will act as an Olympic sponsor through the 2028 Games in a location that has yet to be determined (though the rumor mill points to Buenos Aires, Argentina as one of the more likely candidates).

Michael Payne, former marketing head of the IOC and part of the team that put the deal together, was quoted as saying, “This is so much more than about marketing or sponsorship. It is potentially the single biggest, groundbreaking partnership the IOC has done to date.”

Regardless of where future games end up, come the 2018 PyeongChang winter games in South Korea, Alibaba will be in the international spotlight with other top Olympic partners like Coca-Cola, Samsung Electronics, GE and McDonald’s, among a few others.

Rick Burton, professor of sports management at Syracuse University and former U.S. Olympic Committee chief marketing officer, was quoted as saying, “It’s an insightful deal by Jack Ma, in the sense that it makes Alibaba instantly as credible as a company like Coca-Cola, Visa or McDonald’s. For companies in the U.S. like Amazon or Google or Facebook, it’s symbolically launched Alibaba as an international player to be reckoned with.”

The IOC’s sponsorship agreements are reportedly part cash offering and part service. Companies provide their expertise to put together Olympic Games. In return, the companies get space on one of the world’s largest advertising platform to showcase their products, developments and offerings.

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