Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 239
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

IOC Picks Alibaba Group To Handle Ticketing For '22 Beijing Games

The IOC has tapped the Alibaba Group to handle ticketing for the '22 Beijing Games and suggested the contract can be extended to include future Games in Paris, Milan, L.A. and beyond. The deal is a major expansion of Alibaba’s relationship with the Olympics, adding a key service element alongside its global e-commerce and cloud computing sponsorship. It also could completely upend the much-flawed status quo in Olympic ticketing by centralizing it under the IOC for the long term. “The appointment of Alibaba has been made 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,” an IOC statement reads. Alibaba promised to create a digital ticketing program and modern user experience “that allows fans to purchase and redistribute tickets securely.” Ticketing is one of the most frequently criticized aspects of the Games, with fans often complaining about byzantine distribution rules, poor technical performance by authorized re-sellers such as CoSport USA and broad swaths of sold-but-unused seats.

FUTURE PROSPECTS: The IOC did not say exactly how the deal might be extended past Beijing but suggested future organizing committees, including LA2028, could use Alibaba’s system. “OCOGs will benefit from the opportunity to have a continuity of service through the provision of established systems and delivery experience, alleviating the need to design, engineer and deliver a solution for each individual Games edition,” the IOC said. The IOC did not say who would own any software or intellectual property developed by Alibaba during its work, and what would happen to the ticketing partnership if Alibaba drops out of the sponsorship program after its term expires in '28. CoSport USA’s domestic relationship with the USOPC expires in '20, and LA2028 leaders are known to desire a major change in ticketing as part of its commercial program. LA2028 declined to comment; IOC officials did not immediately respond to questions.