Alibaba Group and The International Olympic Committee said Thursday they have formed a long-term partnership through 2028. Alibaba, which will become a sponsor of the games, will provide cloud computing services, an Olympics channel destined for China and an e-commerce platform for Olympic-licensed merchandise and sports products.
Alibaba made the announcement Thursday at the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Alibaba executives declined to give financial details of the partnership at a press conference.
Alibaba, which recently landed back on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office’s “Notorious Markets” list, has faced a barrage of criticism for the presence of fake products on its platforms, especially Taobao. This issue cropped up once again at the press conference when a journalist asked Alibaba executive chairman and founder Jack Ma and IOC President Thomas Bach about the possibility that fake Olympic-branded merchandise is being sold on Alibaba’s platforms.
Ma reiterated comments he has made in the past that Alibaba runs a marketplace of millions of vendors and buyers with 1.2 billion products, and it is working to fight fakes, but the process will take time.
“Governing and managing a world like that is not easy,” he said, adding that the company has assembled a task force of 2,000 to combat counterfeits and spends more than 1 billion renminbi, or $146 million, every year on these efforts. “By working together, we will make a masterpiece, trust me.”
Ma continued: “As I said yesterday, it’s easy to fingerprint but it’s hard to clean the dirty things in one night. The world has been a big mess in counterfeits, not only in China, but all around the world. It’s not easy to kill the human [greed].”
Alibaba’s rights extend to the Summer and Winter Olympic Games until 2028. These include Pyeongchang in 2018, Tokyo in 2020, and three following Games in cities not yet selected by the IOC.
On Wednesday, Ma spoke about the importance of globalization and urged people to give President-elect Donald Trump a chance despite the Republican’s negative comments about China and its trade surplus with the United States.
Ma encouraged the audience to “give President Donald Trump some time. He has an open mind,” according to Alibaba’s Alizila news site. Ma said a trade war “would be a disaster for the two countries and the world. I would do anything to stop it.”
Ma reiterated those comments about Trump at Thursday’s press conference, saying that he had a “very productive meeting” with Trump and that he’s serious about his pledge for Alibaba to create one million jobs in the United States — not doing so would be a “joke.” He declined to elaborate further on his jobs plan.