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Paralympic mascot “Someity” strikes a pose as Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, looks on during a countdown event in Tokyo on August 25. Photo: AP

Alibaba Cloud to support live broadcast of 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo


Alibaba Cloud, a unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, is teaming up with the host broadcaster of the Olympic Games to launch an advanced cloud computing-based system for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The cloud system will form part of the infrastructure under Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) to step up the production and delivery of content amid the intense demand in terms of volume and speed in the live broadcast of the international multi-sport event, according to a joint statement by OBS and Alibaba Cloud on Wednesday.

Demand for content related to the Olympic Games has increased because of the expanded coverage from various digital and social media around the world, said Yiannis Exarchos, the chief executive of OBS, in a group media interview on the sidelines of the Alibaba Computing Conference in Hangzhou.

The OBS, a company established by the International Olympic Committee to produce and deliver content to a global audience, estimated that the amount of programming required by broadcasters around the world during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro grew to 10 times more than the volume required at the 2004 event in Athens.

“We started thinking of ways to address the issue,” Exarchos said. “And this is where our paths crossed with Alibaba to explore how we can leverage cloud technology to make the work of broadcasters easier and more efficient.”

He said a cloud broadcast solution would help broadcasters “work remotely and not have to bring so much equipment or so many people” to the Olympic Games site.

Cloud computing technology enables companies to distribute over the internet a range of software and other digital resources as an on-demand service, just like electricity from a power grid.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a priority for OBS and Alibaba Cloud,” said Joey Tan, the head of global strategic initiatives at Alibaba Cloud.

The tie-up with OBS heats up the efforts of Alibaba, the only Chinese top-tier sponsor of the Olympic Games, to help the international sporting event undergo a digital transformation through the use of its cloud technology.

That initiative also helps raise further the global profile of Alibaba, which has signed up as official sponsor of the Olympic Games through to 2028. The company serves as both an e-commerce and cloud partner. Alibaba Cloud, the biggest provider of public cloud services in China, is also a “presenting partner” of the Fifa World Cup until 2022.

New York-listed Alibaba, the parent company of the South China Morning Post, posted a 93 per cent year-on-year increase in cloud revenue to 4.7 billion yuan (US$684 million) for the second quarter of this year.

Last month, Alibaba made a push into Southeast Asia by offering a suite of cloud computing solutions to help retailers in the region embrace digitalisation and provide the kind of online-to-offline shopping experience that is already commonplace in China.

Still, Alibaba faces stiff competition in international markets from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud subsidiary of In China, Alibaba is competing against rival cloud operations of Tencent Holdings and Huawei Technologies. Alibaba Cloud was ranked fourth in the global public cloud services market in the second quarter, behind AWS, Microsoft and Google, according to Synergy Research.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Alibaba in cloud deal for tokyo olympics