Alibaba to flex cloud might at Tokyo Olympics

Alibaba is an active sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics and it wants to put its wares on the global stage.
21 January 2020

Students cheering at the global volunteer recruitment drive for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Source: AFP

Tech giant Alibaba is joining the Olympics, championing the new-age technology to transform the age-old competition to be more tech-driven, diving into the digital era. 

The large firm is running the torch to bring smart solutions for the next decade of games, starting in 2017 followed by this year’s Tokyo Olympics and Beijing 2022 Winter Games, and into 2024 Paris Olympics, all the way to 2028 Los Angeles games. 

The leading e-commerce’s Olympics sponsorship deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and set to leverage sports events’ back offices as well as to introduce new technology for athletes. 

In an interview with The Associated Press, Alibaba’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Chirs Tung said, “We are not just putting the rings alongside our logo. We also like to leverage our technology to help transform and upgrade the games. That is always what we have in mind by being a sponsor.”

Broadcasters and media companies will be treated with a tech-driven experience as Alibaba and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are exploring the potentials of cloud computing in filtering content.

Alibaba’s cloud servers will be able to route thousands of hours of footage and interviews more efficiently and in a shorter time—requiring less staff and equipment on-site while creating more content for social media. 

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be an innovation hub for thought leaders to deploy solutions fitting the occasion, leveraging the experience for all parties (organizers, media, athletes, and fans). When Beijing hosts both the Summer and Winter Games, we can expect to see more smart solutions embedded throughout. 

Tung predicted shorter wait time at souvenir stands as fans can order directly from Alibaba’s online platforms. Ticketing will be further digitalized, serving more fans in reduced time. 

“Fans and athletes will experience a totally different Olympic Games with a lot of support from cloud technology,” stated Tung.

Alibaba’s sponsorship in the games is also attracting more global brands to join hands. Announced on the eve of CES 2019, Intel and Alibaba are developing an artificial intelligence (AI) powered technology to track the performance of athletes. The technology utilizes Intel hardware and Alibaba’s cloud computing to develop advanced deep learning applications that examine videos of athletes.

Besides that, the collaboration will bring a mix of technology, including 5G, virtual reality (VR), 3D, and 360-degree content development to the upcoming Olympic Games. 

Meanwhile, with the landmark event presenting a target for cyberattacker to exploit, Tung remarked that “cybersecurity is an absolute must.”