Alibaba lands Beijing 2022 ticketing contract under new IOC strategy

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organising committee of the Beijing 2022 winter Olympic Games have appointed Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba as the event’s ticketing systems and services provider amid the latest move in a switch towards a centralised approach to marketing tickets for the Olympic Games.

Today’s (Thursday’s) appointment came with the IOC stating that Alibaba has been chosen with the objective of securing a single provider to deliver ticketing services and operations over several Games editions, reducing costs and the complexity of hosting the Games in line with Olympic Agenda 2020’s recommendations on efficient turnkey solutions.

The Olympic Games currently operates under a system through which the local organising committee bears responsibility for the sale and distribution of tickets, including appointing authorised resellers for specific countries and territories.

However, the Games have been plagued with high-profile ticketing scandals in the past, most recently at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In December 2015, the IOC opened up the possibility of a change in ticketing strategy for Tokyo 2020 by launching an Invitation for Expression of Interest (IEI) process to secure a central supplier.

Under the Agenda 2020 reform initiative, which provides for the potential of adopting turnkey solutions for certain operations, the IOC requested contact from companies interested in further information regarding the provision of ticketing systems and services to support Tokyo 2020, along with Beijing 2022 and the 2024 summer Games, which will take place in Paris.

Ultimately this plan failed to be enacted in time for Tokyo 2020, which is currently engaged in the process of selling tickets for next year’s event. However, today’s news appears to have progressed the IOC’s plans.

In January 2017, Alibaba agreed a long-term deal to become a top-tier partner of the IOC. The IOC today said that the Beijing 2022 ticketing programme will harness Alibaba’s technological and data expertise, ensuring a fully digitally enabled ticketing programme and modern user experience that allows fans to purchase and redistribute tickets securely. Beijing 2022 will be responsible for the overall planning and delivery of the ticketing programme.

In addition to existing work with the IOC on the development of its digital strategy and ecosystem, the IOC said Alibaba’s expertise in engaging Chinese consumers and ownership of Damai, one of China’s largest ticketing platforms, makes it perfectly positioned to take on the Beijing 2022 contract.

Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said: “The ticketing solutions provided will drive further innovation at the Olympic Games, enhance the spectator experience and reduce costs for organisers, delivering on the commitments made by Olympic Agenda 2020.”

Chris Tung, Alibaba’s chief marketing officer, added: “We look forward to leveraging our technology to help provide streamlined, digitally-enabled ticket sales services to create a seamless ticketing experience for fans around the world.”